National Poetry Month Activity Pack 1

 *Reposted from 4/1/2020

Yes, April is here, and in America that means 
National Poetry Month!

Everyday for National Poetry Month I'll be posting a few fun or interesting poetry links or videos, a Throwback writing prompt from this site, a few poems published in the last couple years and a couple classic poems—things that are poetry-related and not terribly boring, because, let's face it, sometimes poetry can get boring. It's often a lot of thinking and being serious and pondering linguistics and the fine details of Greek mythology and not enough fun. These will sometimes be all serious and poignant, but most of them will be fun and entertaining.

You will have a change to write poetry even if you've never done it before—the writing prompts aim to demystify the process of writing a poem. This will not take the place of the 2020 Writing Exercise Series, but will be in addition to it, so there will be a bevy of poetry to bathe your mind with.

So. Let's begin.

April 1, 2020
National Poetry Month 2020 Activity Pack Day 1

1) Watch this little Ted Talk with Billy Collins which is a bit of him talking, and then animations of a number of his short poems.

2) Go read one, or preferably all of the following three 'recently' published poems:

"Chronic 2001" by Matt Muth in Sundog Lit 16.
"Sugar or Blood" by Campbell McGrath in American Poetry Review Vol. 41 No. 1.

3) Go read all of the following three short 'classic' poems:

4) So, you've read "Wild Geese" and heard it in your own voice, now you're going to listen to it in Mary Oliver's voice twice. First with the visual of her reading the poem, and then with a video put together by Live Learn Evolve. Try to identify places where you read the poem differently in your head from how it sounded with Oliver reading it? Don't worry about time, both videos will take you less than three minutes. It's National Poetry Month! You can spare 3 minutes to really ruminate on a wonderful poem.


5) Now write a poem in the spirit of Oliver's Wild Geese"—take the ten minutes or half hour or however long and do it. Don't just think about it, even if you only get a fragment, produce something and save it to perhaps work into a piece later. Get descriptive with nature, relate some aspect of humanity or society with the natural world, or write it however you'd like. Just write something. 

If you're completely uninspired, try to write a poem as quickly as you can that is fewer than 18 words and gets from a migratory bird to either the concept of individuality or community.

...and finally:

6) Step into the time machine and travel back to September 17, 2019 and try this Literary Mad Libs writing prompt: "Summer Song". You start with doing a mad lib I concocted from a William Carlos Williams poem, and then take your favorite bits and using guided exercises you form a piece around them.


2021 Update:

7) Bonus new poems! These additional poems were published in 2020 or 2021. Fresh off the presses.
"Great Inland Sea" by Elizabeth Clark Wessel in FOLDER 68.
"Ace Hotel, Downtown LA Exterior, Jesus Saves Reverse" by Ron Bentley in Banyan Review Issue 5.
"Scrambled Eggs, 1968" by Charles Rammelkamp in Heroin Love Stories March 25, 2021.