For the month of April,the challenge is to write a poem a day. The NaPoWriMo website
http://www.napowrimo.net issues daily writing prompts and, although there is no compulsion to use these prompts, they can set you going. Even if you don’t take up the challenge, the prompts are fun and mix the playful with the more challenging. Today’s prompt was to write a ‘book spine’ poem, using the titles from your book shelves but yesterday’s was to include ‘something dangerous’, that is, something difficult to say, in the poem. Essentially, at a poem a day the emphasis is on playfulness and experimentation.
My attention was drawn to the project by Marion Leeper, who is a Cambridge based story teller and a member of the writing group that Simon and I belong to. The NaPoWriMo website encourages writers to blog their poems. Here is a link to Marion’s poetry website which reflects her love of the Cambridgeshire landscape and her deep knowledge of storytelling which rise up through all that she writes.
There can be something quite pleasurable about writing to order in this way. In his Cambridge Introduction to Creative Writing, David Morley sets 31 titles for a half hourly daily writing improvisation. Simon and I had a go at this - he much better and more tolerant of it than me, I have to say. To write for half an hour with a starting point that did not always feel attractive at the start was an excellent challenge. Sometimes it made me want to scream, but it also threw up some surprises that pleased. It forced me to overcome the editor in the head; to sidestep what I usually write about and to discover new ways of putting words together.
Perhaps you are already taking part in the poetry writing month - or maybe you will decide to do so now. Perhaps this is something that you could do with those you teach? If you have a blog showcasing your daily poems, do be in touch. We would love to see what you are doing and share your posts.
In Saturday’s Guardian, Andrew Motion wrote about his English teacher, Peter Way, who died last month. His tribute was accompanied by a poem that struck a chord with me and which made me think of writing teachers. It made me think of the writing teachers I know who live alongside their students, who listen attentively, who do not impose, who are kind, and generous in their sharing of what they know about writing; teachers who know that ‘they [students] need us to facilitate and encourage their finding their voices and that we need to teach them to have stronger and stronger voices.....’
Read the poem here: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/09/my-hero-my-english-teacher-by-andrew-motion