PAD 2022 – Day 30

The big finale! Like every April that I attempt a poem-a-day challenge, the month has flown by, and I can barely remember anything I wrote. May becomes a quieter month, of re-reading and polishing.

Today’s NaPoWriMo.net prompt asked for a cento, which is a form I have never tried before. This is a poem that is made up of lines taken from other poems. If you’d like to dig into an in-depth example, here’s John Ashbery’s cento “The Dong with the Luminous Nose,” and here it is again, fully annotated to show where every line originated.

My lines come from a variety of poems posted under the Poetry Foundation’s “Poetry and the Environment” category. I plan to post an annotated version of this, listing all the poems and poets, when I get a chance. But for now it comes incomplete, but appropriate, on a day when I’m about to host a workshop and reading at the Edmonton Poetry Festival about poems that address the climate crisis.

a deer walked into the house while I was writing at the kitchen table
(or: a cento for the end of the world)


the earth says have a place, be what that place requires.
this sort of song tells a certain sort of story,

that it is we who are important.
a story about having something 
and then losing it.

then, even here
life will be different, good tillable land so dear.
flames pour forth when the faucet’s unstopped.

here the worst ever. every tree hurt. 
how easy it is to live with little deaths
their beauty has more meaning
in past tense.

the deer
looked at me with a stilled defiant terror, like a thing with no choices.

what will survive us
has already begun
Photo by Chris F on Pexels.com

It’s almost Poetry Month!

Hooray, hooray, it’s the first of…April. Well, in a few hours. I think this is the sixth year I’ve decided to try to write a poem a day for National Poetry Month. However, it’s also one of the busiest Aprils I’ve ever experienced, so the goal to do this and polish (sorta) and post is probably too lofty. I hope to still write something from daily prompts, and will try to post at least a line from the daily work-in-progress as a way to keep myself on track.

What other poem-y things am I up to this month?

From April 22-24, I’ll be taking part in CV2’s 2-Day Poem Contest again. Always SO MUCH fun. If you’re up for it, you can find out more and register here.

The Edmonton Poetry Festival is back, and I am thrilled to be part of the Board this year! Events will run from April 24 through May 1, and I will be hosting a climate crisis workshop and reading on April 30. I’m very excited about that! Details and registration information coming soon.

Happy reading and writing to all who do!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

PAD 2021 – Day 30

It’s almost over! Do I write this with happiness or regret? Maybe both. Certainly finding the motivation to write some days this month has been a challenge, but it’s also been a kind of comfort to have a routine, and so many other new poems from others to inspire me.

The final NaPoWriMo.net prompt challenges you to write a poem in the form of a series of directions describing how a person should get to a particular place. It could be a real place, like your local park, or an imaginary or unreal place, like “the bottom of your heart,” or “where missing socks go.” Fill your poem with sensory details, and make them as wild or intimate as you like.

How to Get to the Back Deck to Drink Your Coffee

Never assume a short journey is an easy one.
Begin by preparing for diversions — a phone call you
don’t want to answer; the broken glass you’ll have to carefully
pick up, when a too-quick pivot to answer a child calling
from another room results in an elbow knocking last night’s
wine glass from the counter. Allow time for a loud expletive,
then a sigh. Embrace exasperations that end in small relief.
When it seems there is quiet — a gifted moment when no one 
remembers you’re there — pour coffee into your favourite mug, 
or your favourite right now, one that knows the shape of your hand.
Take soft steps toward your destination. Watch out for
the squeaky spot between the kitchen and the dining room. 
Keep your hip clear of the metal chair, pushed back from the table 
after someone’s hurried breakfast, now collecting sun 
from the bare window. Casting shadow on an unswept floor.  
Turn the lock on the deck door cautiously, with one foot out to
the side, that experienced stance to block escape artist cats.
Open only as wide as is needed for you to slip through. Don’t 
pause at the threshold, overcome with birdsong or 
the welcome wash of cool air. Just get out there. Sit.
And stay. Even after you’re needed on the inside again.
Stay, sipping hot coffee and staring at clouds.
Let a part of you remain.
Deck Break by Me

100-word story

I’m happy to have one of my 100-word stories featured today at Microfiction Monday Magazine. I’ve pasted my story below, but if you love microfiction as much as I do, please check out the entire issue here.

A Departure



As he boarded the train, she drew a tissue from her pocket, thinking the tears would come any second. They didn’t.

Numb. I’m just numb now, she thought, dabbing at the corner of her eye anyway. In case he was watching.

“Last trip for the year,” he said on the drive to the station. “Then it’ll be just us together for months.”

“I can’t wait,” she said, grateful he was looking at the road instead of her face.

After his train pulled away, she stepped up to the ticket booth.

“One way for whatever gets me the farthest,” she said.

PAD Challenge 2020 – Recap

I decided to take stock this morning and look back at what I wrote this month. 36 poems and 7 starts (that may turn into poems at some point). I even like 4 of them! Most of the poems I’ve gone on to publish in journals or anthologies have started from seeds planted during these poem-a-day challenges.

I recently submitted a revised version of my poetry manuscript, and the majority of poems in it also started from the monthly challenges I’ve completed in previous years. I realize prompts don’t work for every writer, but they have been an amazing motivator for me, and also help me explore writing in new forms or about different topics than I’m normally drawn to.

All of this to say, even in the midst of one of the most stressful and disorienting months I’ve ever experienced, poetry has been a respite. I know it always will be.

To anyone who has read or commented on my work this month, thank you! I am grateful. I always write for myself first, but it’s encouraging to know something I’ve created and shared resonates in some small way with someone else.

Next comes editing and revising. A different kind of fun! But not until June. The words need time to age and settle a bit. First I plan to read more of the poems others have created this month, and dig in to the MANY poetry books I’ve purchased in the last several weeks. I firmly believe every day is better with poetry, but never has that seemed truer than now.

green leafed plant on sand

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

PAD 2020 – Day 7

One week into Poetry Month and I’ve written a poem (sometimes more than one) each day! Considering how creatively stunted and numb I’ve felt lately, I’m happy that any words are rising to the surface. Thinking about how to revise them into good words is a May problem.

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt asked for a poem based on a news article. It was a bit of a chore to find a story that wasn’t about the pandemic, but then I hit upon this interesting one about discovering the age of whale sharks. But, true to my nature, I ended up turning it into something with an undertone of doom.

This one is an erasure poem taken directly from the text of the article. I don’t do those often, because I find them extremely challenging, but this month is all about experimentation and breaking out of comfort zones (without leaving your house), right?

 

Endangered Creatures

 

Whale sharks swim in mystery.

Count lines in the vertebrae

like rings in a tree trunk.

Reasons behind age, what persists —

 

every living thing decays

the older the creature, the less you find

 

The hard part is these intensely vulnerable humans.

Why they exploit.

Scientists believe they      humans      can be helped.

Cooperation is key to survival.

This is a good news story after all.

 

whale shark

 

 

Poetry Festival excitement

I am super excited to be reading at the Edmonton Poetry Festival today for Poetry Central 1 at City Hall, and honoured to be on the bill with four other poets I admire. The theme of this year’s fest is HomeWord, and I have tried to keep that in mind when I chose the pieces I want to share.

The fest actually kicked off yesterday morning with a BYOV (local poets organizing their own events at various city venues) called Poetry and Stillness. It was meditative and beautiful. The words were enriching. It gave me the focus and energy I need for the rest of the busy week.

Hoping to catch as many events as I can, and then finish with a workshop by Arleen Pare on Saturday. The Fest always puts on spectacular workshops.

Still plan to post the Poem-A-Day to finish out the month. If you’ve been reading any of my posts, thank you so much. And hopefully you’re poeming along too. The world needs your words. Poetry can be the force that makes us protect what’s important, and fight for the world we want. But Alice Walker said it better, with one of my favourite quotes about poetry:

“Poetry is the lifeblood of rebellion, revolution, and the raising of consciousness.”

 

PAD 2019 – Day 1

Today is the first day of National Poetry Month and the FIFTH consecutive year that I’ll be participating in the poem-a-day-challenge! I have been madly writing dark short fiction for the last few months, as part of a mentorship program with the Writers’ Guild of Alberta (how lucky am I?!?!), but I decided to dust off the blog with some poetic blab too.

This year I’m aiming to write a poem every day in a local, closed group with other adventurous Stroll of Poets members, but when I can I will try to post here as well. I will also try to respond to the Poetic Asides prompt, or a combination if it works. Today’s prompts matched perfectly, with my local group suggesting “the streets at dawn” as a prompt and Poetic Asides asking for a “morning” poem. Clearly the darkness of all that horror fiction I’ve been writing and reading bled into today’s poem:

 

Morning Before Anyone Else

 

a kind of hollowness, the streets at dawn

apocalypse now — concrete world without people

 

rubble from winter melt desecrating this suburban crescent

windows of each house black and vacant, pupils of the dead

 

trees, budless and birdless in this limbo season

morning is a beginning and an ending too

 

uncovering all that lied in the dark

 

November PAD – Day 22

Today’s prompt asked for a ____ Day poem. All I could think of was “A Day”, and what a day it was, it was.

22.

A day seems so long when the sun’s still on its way, the coffee is hot, and you can almost see the blank hours ahead, like a long country road in summer. I was travel ready this morning, prepared and packed, motivation easy to reach in a mental carry on. How quick it all runs off course, when the phone rings, and crisis, small but real, is on the line. A different city, too far away to help, but close enough to think I should be helping. Somehow. The day is no longer enlarged by possibility, but crushed by those pointless words — wish and worry.