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 28

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt asked poets to describe a bedroom from their past. It served as a good prompt to combine with the Poetic Asides call for a “look back or don’t look back” poem.  The first place my mind looked back to was the room I slept in when I visited my grandparents as a child.

 

Visiting

 

Four of us

crammed in the small bedroom at the Cook Street house,

afterthought lined with wood paneling.

Adjunct to the crowded porch where Grandpa kept his freezer full of meat

and Grandma kept her boxes of unused Avon products,

bought to appease her persistent neighbour.

My brother, notorious snorer, got the living room couch,

but Grandpa and Grandma thought they were treating my sister and me

to the thin mattress on the floor, giving Mom and Dad the luxury

of the spare double bed in the very same room. A small window

that opened halfway, only deliverance from the stale space.

I couldn’t stay on my side of the mattress, so my sister kicked. We both yelled.

Mom scolding us to be quiet, while Dad slept on. Oblivious.

They lived too far away to make quick trips,

so we’d spend a week of nights in that tiny space, darker than my dark

at home, I was even a little grateful for my sister’s closeness.

In the morning, awoken by chickadees in the caragana shrub,

the scent of Grandpa frying last night’s ham, I liked being the first

one to open my eyes. To sneak off the mattress, navigate the

tiny path, strewn with off-cast blankets, my Dad’s slippers,

to make it to the door. Opened it slow as syrup, to quiet the creak.

 

 

Door Knob

 

 

 

 

PAD 2020 – Day 24

I used my local Stroll of Poets prompt today to come up with a poem that contains anaphora (deliberate repetition in the first part of the sentence), and combined it with the Poetic Asides prompt calling for a poem that includes nature.

 

Almost Normal

 

Normal, daily walk to check the mail,

the reluctant groan of the hinge on my front door,

the neighbour’s dog alert-barking at my movement.

Normal, the steady trickle of melt water,

crows cawing and soaring in a clear sky,

the shhhhhhh of leftover leaves rustling in a tree.

Normal, the teenager slapping a puck against his garage,

an older man raking his newly exposed lawn,

two small girls happy-screeching in a backyard.

Not normal, arriving at the mailbox,

staying two metres back while another woman collects her envelopes

fearing what else she, or the postal worker who delivered this, carry.

 

Canada-Post-Community-Mailboxes-493x300

 

 

PAD 2020 – Day 23

Did two micropoems from two prompts today. Poetic Asides asked for a “Social _______ ” poem.

 

social butterfly

wings clipped by isolation

learns to zoom instead

 

NaPoWriMo challenged poets to write a poem about a particular letter of the alphabet, taking inspiration from the actual the shape of the letter.

 

A Beginning

 

A tip of a pencil

A top of a castle

A hat for a dunce

A tent for us

A ladder to somewhere

A letter to start

the alphabet, arithmetic, and the day we said always.

 

A image

 

 

 

PAD 2020 – Day 19

My poem today is still in process, so instead I’m posting it as a photo poem. Today I used the NaPoWriMo prompt  to write a poem based on a “walking archive.” What’s that? Well, it’s when you go on a walk and gather up interesting thing – a flower, a strange piece of bark, a rock. This then becomes your “walking archive” – the physical instantiation of your walk. Because of current quarantine circumstances, I did an “around the house” item retrieval instead. My written poem will also incorporate the Poetic Asides call to include the words bump; embrace; fixture; howl; lonely; resolve.

Isolation Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunt

PAD 2020 – Day 16

A little short on writing time again today, but still wanted to answer the Poetic Asides call for “The Last _________ ” poem. In my house, we used the pandemic as an excuse to stock up on a lot of treats during our last big grocery shop. But now that some of the most popular items are dwindling, each bite comes with more thoughtful consideration. I even took a photo to document the evidence.

 

The Last Cookie

 

I opened the bag

as carefully as a thief

moving through a sleeping house

but could not commit the crime

knowing there’d be none left for you.

 

The last cookie

 

 

 

 

PAD 2020 – Day 15

Two weeks down! This is usually about the point in my poetry month, poem-a-day challenge that I lose some steam. I think it’s true this year too, but the fact that I’m halfway there, and haven’t (completely) run out of motivation yet is something to celebrate.

Today’s poem combines the NaPoWriMo prompt asking for a poem inspired by your favorite kind of music, with the Poetic Asides call for a “dream” poem. My favourite kind of music is definitely rock, which has apparently been true my whole life. I don’t actually like KISS as much as I did when I was wee, but I always appreciate a good guitar shred and anyone who puts it all out there on stage. There are many days when I dream of having that kind of talent and confidence.

 

I Wanna Rock N Roll

 

At age 3, my obsession was KIϟϟ.

Maybe it was the make-up,

or should I blame it on guitar riffs?

I don’t remember,

but my older siblings like to tell stories

of me trying to sing I Was Made For Lovin’ You

in my screechy, toddler voice.

I like to imagine

I did air guitar too.

I like to imagine

that even as a small child,

I dreamed

of being on a stage, leather-clad, breathing fire,

spitting blood, shooting rockets, blasting pyro

making drum kits rise off the stage like dark magic.

I like to imagine

that even though the drudgery of life,

all those inevitable responsibilities,

have tempered and tamed my inner rock star,

I hear my song and it pulls me through. *

 

*Last line is a lyric from “Detroit Rock City”

 

Kiss

 

 

PAD 2020 – Day 14

A bit pressed for time today, which means I’ve gone with a compressed poem in my attempt to hit two prompts in one. I combined the NaPoWriMo challenge to write a poem that deals with the poems, poets, and other people who inspired you to write poems, with the Poetic Asides call for a form or anti-form poem. One of my favourite forms is the haiku or senryu, and of course that means appreciating the work of 17th-century haiku master Bashō. Since this is hardly a traditional haiku, maybe I have written an anti-form poem after all?

 

Bashō I am not

but I echo in honour

of his superb form

close up photography of cherry blossom tree

Photo by Bagus Pangestu on Pexels.com

PAD 2020 – Day 12

Squeaking in today’s poem before it’s tomorrow. Kept myself very busy the Easter day, with cooking and hunting eggs with my kids, which was a nice respite from the heaviness of the world. I tried to combine prompts again today, mixing the Poetic Asides call for a “spirit” poem with the NaPoWriMocall to write a triolet. I find form poetry, especially any that rhymes, to be extremely challenging, and this was no exception.

 

eidolon

 

spirits are closest and dusk or at dawn

transitioning sun opens up inner light

thoughts attuned to what’s here, not what’s gone

spirits are closest and dusk or at dawn

asking us gently to keep holding on

believing beyond what’s in sight

spirits are closest and dusk or at dawn

transitioning sun opens up inner light

 

white clouds and blue sky

Photo by Ithalu Dominguez on Pexels.com

PAD 2020 – Day 6

Today’s poem is a short one, but blends a couple prompts and bits of inspiration. The NaPoWriMo prompt called for a poem written from the point of view of one person/animal/thing from Hieronymous Bosch’s famous (and fantastically weird) triptych The Garden of Earthly DelightsI chose the naked man carrying the lovers in a mussel shell (image below), and added in the Poetic Asides call for a “trap” poem. The image immediately made me think of the 1980 Squeeze song “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)” — which also happens to be a euphemism for sex — so, naturally, that made it into the poem too.

Under the Black Shell

 

Love is a trap, snapped

and those ensnared in its teeth

abandon all care for freedom.

I’ve carried lovers on my back,

felt the burden of the heart

when pearls of wisdom

are traded for beads of sweat.

Judgement lost in passioned frenzy.

How much innovation

has been wasted

by those who’d spend all

their waking days and wanton nights

pulling mussels from the shell?

 

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