On Writing One Poem a Day in National Poetry Month
April is National Poetry Month. National Poetry Month was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. It’s also NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month)— an offshoot of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). During this month, magazines, workshops, radio shows, news sources, and readings showcase poetry in all its forms. Writers participate in the challenge of writing one poem a day during the month of April.
I’ve been a NaPoWriMo follower for about four years now. I started NaPoWriMo as a natural extension of my writing practice. I’d done NaNoWriMo before and wanted to do the same for poetry. But I soon learned that writing a poem a day is much different than trying to cram 50,000 words into 30 days. A poem a day is liberating. It’s exploratory. It’s effing magical.
When you’re trying to write 50,000 words in a month for NaNoWriMo, you’re basically just thinking about word count. Did I make my count today? Did anyone else? How far am I from done? Where the heck is my book going to take me today? Can I accomplish what this scene needs in the 1,666 words I need to make today? You’re crafting a story and you’re having to think about the mechanics of what a book is. There’s often hours and hours of outlining necessary to make NaNoWriMo a success. It’s in NOVEMBER (Who decided THAT was a good month to try and write a book?) the month of holidays, in-laws, and too much eating. It’s hard work and often exhausting. I’ve only “won” NaNoWriMo once.
Over the years I’ve done different iterations of NaPoWriMo. This February, I did an Instagram challenge where I wrote a tiny love poem a day. One year I wrote mostly erasures or blackout poetry. I started with just a simple pen and notebook, posting my experiments to my blog (You can read most of them in my blog archives.) What I figured out is that NaPoWriMo is different than NaNoWriMo because it’s basically just one poem a day. What a poem IS can vary. Write a haiku? That counts. Write a long narrative piece? Still counts. A series of sonnets? Yep, that too. There is so much you can do with poetry.