April is NaPoWriMo, the loser cousin of NaNoWriMo that sits in the corner of the bar in its skinny leg jeans, flannelette shirt, hoodie and sunglasses. NaPo has a cigarette (not necessarily the tobacco kind) in one hand and a pen in the other. NaPo has feelings and it’s not afraid to write them down or recite them in a voice that has a rising intonation and pauses where you don’t anticipate them.
That’s right, it’s National Poetry Writing Month. Just like its November counterpart (National Novel Writing Month), NaPoWriMo should really drop its ‘National’ tag as it has become a worldwide creative pursuit. Basically, regardless of whether you’re NaPo-ing or NaNo-ing, the name of the game is to write each day. If you’re writing in April you’re aiming for a poem a day; if it’s November you’re writing to a word count.
The greatest challenge in writing a poem a day for a whole month is coming up with the inspiration. If you’re working towards a novel you’ve got a clear direction and focus but, unless you’re writing a series of themed poems, coming up with a new idea for 30 consecutive days can be quite difficult.
So here are three activities to get the creative juices flowing, just in case you need them.
- Take on a new voice
Sometimes the reason you can’t write is because you feel as if you’ve exhausted your voice, so take on another one. Imagine what poetry from your favourite fictional characters would sound like. What would Gwen Harwood’s sonnets look like if she was writing today (“She sits in a park, her iPhone screen is cracked…”)? What poems would Hollywood produce?
If you can’t think of what your favourite celebrity would write, type their Twitter handle into http://poetweet.com.br/?lang=en
Poetweet takes your tweets and makes them into 1 of 3 types of poems. You can put your own username in (as I have below) or type in the profile of a celebrity. It won’t necessarily give you a poem you’re happy with but it could provide the spark you need to write something better.
- Write to a pattern
Knitters use a pattern. You can paint-by-numbers. So why not write to a formula too?
It works for an academic piece. High school students everywhere write theses that go: “In (text), (author) uses (generic conventions) to (generalisation about the human condition).”
So why not set yourself a pattern to follow when writing a poem? I’ve written a poem about the seven deadly sins that contains seven stanzas of seven lines, each with seven syllables. Why not do the same? Or, you could come up with your own numerical concepts like:
- 9 stanzas, each one reflecting a different life of the same cat (presuming cats have 9 lines as the old wives’ tale suggests)
- 9 stanzas on the 9 wonders
- 4 stanzas on the 4 seasons
- 5 stanzas on each of the 1 Direction boys – sorry, 4 stanzas
- Find a poem
Essentially, all you need to do is take an existing text and ‘find’ a poem by erasing, adding, reordering or refashioning the words and/or phrases therein.
So, there you go. Happy writing, people!