NaPoWriMo 2023

So excited to embark on this journey once more! Outside my window, April is in full bloom and pouring buckets of rain, but I find the rain soothing; it can’t dampen my joy. This year, NaPoWriMo is celebrating its 20th anniversary and I’m beyond happy to have joined its cohort of intrepid travelers in 2017! Many thanks to Maureen Thorson for launching NaPoWriMo in 2003. A whole flock of baby poems I wrote during the month of April in the past six years were subsequently published in journals and will appear in my two upcoming books. I’m so grateful for this unique experience that once upon a time pulled me out of the I-can’t-write-worth-a-damn fog and set me firmly on my writing path. There’s some kind of magic that happens when time is short, when you have a juicy prompt, and, most of all, when there’s a whole community spurring you along and cheering you on. It’s a race against yourself, really. The bad habits you’ve worked so hard to develop the rest of the year simply don’t stand a chance. I’m glad and honored to be part of something so nourishing.

A few things about logistics. Unlike in the past few years, I’ve decided not to agonize over each draft. (I may have said this before, though, so take it with a grain of salt. I think some modicum of agony will find me no matter how hard I try to avoid it.) Sharing fledgling efforts has always made me feel skinless, but I’m trying to build a carapace here, so bear with me. I want to play more than hurt. To diminish the pain of “I’m no good and this is rubbish,” the first draft of each poem written this month will expire when the next day’s draft is posted. Another compelling reason to pull the poems off is the need to revise and submit them to literary journals, which only accept unpublished work (there are a few exceptions, but generally, that’s the trend). So if you don’t see the previous days’ poems, this is why. The hope is that one day these fledglings will grow strong wings that will take them away from me to a forever home in a literary magazine or, fingers crossed, a new book.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 30

Today’s prompt challenges us “to write a palinode – a poem in which you retract a view or sentiment expressed in an earlier poem. For example, you might pick a poem you drafted earlier in the month and write a poem that contradicts or troubles it. This could be an interesting way to start working on a series of related poems. Alternatively, you could play around with the idea of a palinode by writing a poem in which the speaker says something like “I take it back” or otherwise abandons a prior position within the single poem.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

I found a really cool palinode while looking for contemporary examples of this odd ode. I don’t know if my two pieces below are true palinodes, but they do self-doubt and contradict themselves. A little bit.

I want to thank Maureen Thorson and the NaPoWriMo community for an amazing month. Writing together has been a revelation in so many ways, but now I must turn my attention to the 30 (!😍🙌🙏) baby poems I wrote this month and see if I can whittle them into their future selves. Thank you all who participated, read, and commented. You’re wonderful. Write like the wind, fellow NaPoWriMo-ers, and see you next year!

PS–Day 30 poem has expired, but here’s one of my favorite photos of Willow.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 29

Today’s prompt asks us to start “by reading Alberto Rios’s poem “Perfect for Any Occasion.” Now, write your own two-part poem that focuses on a food or type of meal. At some point in the poem, describe the food or meal as if it were a specific kind of person. Give the food/meal at least one line of spoken dialogue.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

Today is my birthday and I spent it doing what I love most. Grateful for love and family and trees and words.💜🙏🍃

As for the prompt, I wanted to write about pumpkin pies (I have a love/hate relationship with them), but then, the not-so-great Pumpkin took over. It sat there, in its majestic pumpkiness, watching me. It looked displeased. I did my best to lighten up the mood. Turns out, pumpkins are gourds of few words.

PS–Day 29 poem has expired, but here’s Willow saying, Mom. Are you done? I want more attention.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 28

Today’s prompt challenges us “to write your own index poem. You could start with found language from an actual index, or you could invent an index, somewhat in the style of this poem by Kell Connor.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

I dove into the explanatory notes at the end of Melville’s Moby-Dick in order to cobble together my index poem. The piece below is a hotchpotch of found language.

PS–Day 28 poem has expired, but here’s Willow helping mama celebrate half a century.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 27

Today’s prompt asks us to “begin by reading Bernadette Mayer’s poem “The Lobelias of Fear.” Now write your own poem titled “The ________ of ________,” where the first blank is a very particular kind of plant or animal, and the second blank is an abstract noun. The poem should contain at least one simile that plays on double meanings or otherwise doesn’t quite make “sense,” and describe things or beings from very different times or places as co-existing in the same space.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

I love Bernadette Mayer’s work. Here’s my hobbled poem on a day when the headache rules.

PS–Day 27 poem has expired, but here’s Willow on top of the world.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 26

Today’s prompt asks us “to write a portrait poem that focuses on or plays with the meaning of the subject’s name. This could be a self-portrait, a portrait of a family member or close friend, or even a portrait of a famous or historical person. If you need help delving into the meaning of your poem-subject’s name, this website may help.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

I wrote about my mother’s many names. She was born Liubovi (it means “love”) and went by Liuba, Liusia, Liusica, Liutica, as well as the name she chose for herself, Leonida.

PS–Day 26 poem has expired, but here’s baby Willow chasing a squirrel up a tree.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 25

Today’s prompt asks us to begin “by reading e e cummings’ poem [somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond]. This is a pretty classic love poem, so well-known that it has spawned at least one silly meme. Today’s prompt challenges you to also write a love poem, one that names at least one flower, contains one parenthetical statement, and in which at least some lines break in unusual places.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

Since today’s prompt has given us–beautifully, suddenly–free rein to follow our bliss, I continued my love affair with the oak. I’ve decided it deserves at least one more poem.

PS–Day 25 poem has expired, but here’s Willow contemplating her existence.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 24

Today’s prompt challenges us “to write a poem in the form of a review. But not a review of a book or a movie of a restaurant. Instead, I challenge you to write a poetic review of something that isn’t normally reviewed. For example, your mother-in-law, the moon, or the year you were ten years old.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

I often marvel at the miracle of the human body, especially its most mysterious organ, the brain. Hence, today’s review.

PS–Day 24 poem has expired, but here’s Willow in awe of the largest dandelion she’s ever seen.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 22 / 23

Today’s prompt asks us to start off “by reading Arvind Krishna Mehrotra’s “Lockdown Garden.” Now, try to write a poem of your own that has multiple numbered sections. Attempt to have each section be in dialogue with the others, like a song where a different person sings each verse, giving a different point of view. Set the poem in a specific place that you used to spend a lot of time in, but don’t spend time in anymore.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

Because I’ve been traveling and running short on time, I combined today’s prompt with the one offered yesterday: “Find an Emily Dickinson poem – preferably one you’ve never previously read – and take out all the dashes and line breaks. Make it just one big block of prose. Now, rebreak the lines. Add words where you want. Take out some words. Make your own poem out of it! (Not sure where to find some Dickinson poems? You’ll find oodles at the bottom of this page).” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

PS–Day 22/23 poem has expired, but here’s Willow as a puppy, discovering the world.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 21

Today’s prompt asks us to begin “by reading Sarah Gambito’s poem “Grace.” Now, choose an abstract noun from the list below, and then use that as the title for a poem that contains very short lines, and at least one invented word. [List:] Glory, Courage, Anxiety, Failure, Defeat, Delight, Confusion, Calm, Belief, Cleverness, Despair, Honesty, Deceit, Strength.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

I’m very grateful to have had my Day 20 poem featured on NaPoWriMo this morning (scroll down to find it below). I’m going to leave it on the website until the end of April. I’m in Brussels for a few days and constantly on the go, but hope to carve some time to read NaPoWriMo poems later tonight. In the meantime, here’s a very short poem in response to today’s prompt.

PS–Day 21 poem has expired, but here’s Willow with her heart-melting puppy eyes.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 20

Today’s prompt “Have you ever heard someone wonder what future archaeologists, whether human or from alien civilization, will make of us? Today, I’d like to challenge you to answer that question in poetic form, exploring a particular object or place from the point of view of some far-off, future scientist? The object or site of study could be anything from a “World’s Best Grandpa” coffee mug to a Pizza Hut, from a Pokemon poster to a cellphone.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

What a wonderful prompt! I chose the cellphone as the entry point into the poem below, but then the poem kind of grew and grew around it. It’s in the voice of a marine scientist from a (hopefully) very distant future (though the odds are not exactly in our favor). I stole the pun in the last line from the movie Juno, which is my go-to picker-upper.

PS–Day 20 poem has expired, but here’s Willow cooling down.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 19

Today’s prompt asks us to “start by reading Marlanda Dekine’s poem “My Grandma Told Stories or Cautionary Tales.” One common feature of childhood is the monsters. The ones under the bed or in the closet; the odd local monsters that other kids swear roam the creek at night, or that parents say wait to steal away naughty children that don’t go to bed on time. Now, cast your mind back to your own childhood and write a poem about something that scared you – or was used to scare you – and which still haunts you (if only a little bit) today.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

My childhood nemesis was Bau Bau–a misshapen monster that kept shapeshifting depending on what scary stories I was being read. There’s no PG-13 in Romanian fairytales!

PS–Day 19 poem has expired, but here’s Willow NOT having an identity crisis.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 18

Today’s prompt challenges us “to write an abecedarian poem – a poem in which the word choice follows the words/order of the alphabet. You could write a very strict abecedarian poem, in which there are twenty-six words in alphabetical order, or you could write one in which each line begins with a word that follows the order of the alphabet. This is a prompt that lends itself well to a certain playfulness. Need some examples? Try this poem by Jessica Greenbaum, this one by Howard Nemerov or this one by John Bosworth.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

I love abecedarian poems. Here’s mine–riffing off the periodic table. An ode to all my bad choices. Imaginary bad choices, obviously.

PS–Day 18 poem has expired, but here’s Willow waiting for me to collect wild garlic.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 17

Today’s prompt asks us to begin “by reading Sayuri Ayers’ poem “In the Season of Pink Ladies.” A pretty common piece of writing advice is that poets should know, and use, the precise names for things. Don’t say flower when you can say daisy. Don’t say bird when you mean a hawk. Today’s challenge asks you to write a poem that contains the name of a specific variety of edible plant – preferably one that grows in your area. (That said, if you’re lacking inspiration, online seed catalogs provide a treasure trove of unusual and charming names for vegetables, fruits and flowers. Here’s one to get you started.) In the poem, try to make a specific comparison between some aspect of the plant’s lifespan and your own – or the life of someone close to you. Also, include at least one repeating phrase.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

Our woods are replete with wild garlic at the moment, so that’s my choice of an edible plant to write about. The piece below might get a little sentimental, but hey, life is short and I’d rather feel things–every single one of them.

PS–Day 17 poem has expired, but here’s Willow following her bliss.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 16

Today’s prompt “is a poem of negation – yes (or maybe, no), I challenge you to write a poem that involves describing something in terms of what it is not, or not like. For example, if you chose a whale as the topic of your poem, you might have lines like “It does not settle down in trees at night, cooing/Nor will it fit in your hand.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

I’m one day behind, so I’m posting yesterday’s draft as well. Today’s poem of negation is about… well, I’ll let you figure it out. Hint? Carl Sandburg said once that it came “on little cat feet.”

PS–Day 16 poem has expired, but here’s Willow excited to go on a trip.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 15

Today’s prompt asks us to begin “by reading June Jordan’s “Notes on the Peanut.” Now, think of a person – real or imagined – who has been held out to you as an example of how to be or live, but who you have always had doubts about. Write a poem that exaggerates the supposedly admirable qualities of the person in a way that exposes your doubts.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

The Muse was playing hard to get yesterday. She said she needed time, tea, a great view, the couch, a walk in the forest, more tea on the couch, Willow’s silky ears, the sound of birds, of a river, of the lake, but when given all these nourishing things, she refused to show her face. So I wrote about her, wonderful, fickle creature that she is. Not because she’s someone I’d like to emulate (her punctuality sucks), but because without her I’m not entirely myself. Obviously, I didn’t dare to reprimand my Muse too much for fear that she wouldn’t come back.

PS–Day 15 poem has expired, but here’s baby Willow playing inside our coffee table.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 14

Today’s prompt challenges us “to write a parody or satire based on a famous poem. It can be long or short, rhymed or not. But take a favorite (or unfavorite) poem of the past, and see if you can’t re-write it on humorous, mocking, or sharp-witted lines. You can use your poem to make fun of the original (in the vein of a parody), or turn the form and manner of the original into a vehicle for making points about something else (more of a satire – though the dividing lines get rather confused and thin at times).” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

I chose to write in response to Sylvia Plath’s “Mad Girl’s Love Song.” I love this poem, which happens to be a villanelle. I’ve cobbled together a villanelle as well and dedicated it to my favorite piece of furniture at the moment. I’m also attaching a parody I wrote a few years back in response to two famous poems, both by Robert Frost–“The Road Not Taken” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

PS–Day 14 poem has expired, but here’s Willow on the trail, patiently waiting for me to catch up.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 13

Today’s prompt asks as to “start by taking a look at these three short poems by Bill Knott. Now, try writing a short poem (or a few, if you’re inspired) that follows the beats of a classic joke. Emphasize the interplay between the form of the poem – such as the line breaks – and the punchline.” (Full NaPoWriMo post, including Bill Knott’s poems, available here.)

I was going to write a vampire joke, being Romanian and all. But this old vampire kept telling me things and I had to write them down. So the joke’s on me, as this monologue is anything but short. Its shape might have something to do with fangs. Or stakes.

PS–Day 13 poem has expired, but here’s Willow when she was a baby, sleeping.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 12

Today’s prompt challenges us “to write a poem that addresses itself or some aspect of its self (i.e., “Dear Poem,” or “what are my quatrains up to?”; “Couplet, come with me . . .”) This might seem a little “meta” at first, or even kind of cheesy. But it can be a great way of interrogating (or at least, asking polite questions) of your own writing process and the motivations you have for writing, and the motivations you ascribe to your readers.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

I’ve been having mostly one-sided conversations with poems, hence the many questions below. Now and then, a poem might answer, but the answer usually leaves me more confused than before. That’s all right, poems, don’t feel too bad about it. I can live with the questions.

PS–Day 12 poem has expired, but here’s Willow being majestic in Prague.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 11

Today’s prompt challenges us “to play around with the idea of overheard language. First, take a look at Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “One Boy Told Me.” It’s delightfully quirky, and reads as a list, more or less, of things that she’s heard the boy of the title – her son, perhaps? – say. Now,  write a poem that takes as its starting point something overheard that made you laugh, or something someone told you once that struck you as funny. If you can’t think of anything, here’s a few one-liners I picked out of the ever-fascinating-slash-horrifying archives of Overheard in New York.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

I’m not sure I did this one right. I started writing as soon as I read Naomi Shihab Nye’s amazing poem and didn’t even get to the second source. I have a busy day ahead, though, so this will have to do. Here’s a poem about aging and squirrels. It’s all over the place. Like aging and squirrels.

PS–Day 11 poem has expired, but here’s Willow and her shadow self crossing a stream.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 10

Today’s prompt “comes from our archives. I’m playing to my own strengths here, but I challenge you to write a sea shanty (or shantey, or chanty, or chantey — there’s a good deal of disagreement regarding the spelling!) Anyway, these are poems in the forms of songs, strongly rhymed and rhythmic, that sailors might sing while hauling on ropes and performing other sea-going labors. Probably the two most famous sea shanties (at least before TikTok gave us The Wellerman) are What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor? and Blow the Man Down. And what should your poem be about? Well, I suppose it could be about anything, although some nautical phrases tossed into the chorus would be good for keeping the sea in your shanty. Haul away, boys, haul away!” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

Here’s my sea shanty. It speaks (sings? curses?) for itself.

PS–Day 10 poem has expired, but here’s Willow running like the wind.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 9

“Today, sonnets are probably most commonly associated with Shakespeare (who wrote more than 150, and felt very little compunction about messing around with the form, at least to the extent of regularly saying “who cares” to strict iambs). But poets’ attention to the form hasn’t waned in the 400 years or so since the Bard walked the fields around Stratford-upon-Avon and tramped the stage-boards of Merrie Old England. Take a look at this little selection of contemporary sonnets by Dennis JohnsonAlice NotleyRobert Hass, and Jill Alexander Essbaum. You’ll notice that while all of these poems play in some way on the theme of love, they are tonally extremely different – as is the kind or quality of love that they discuss. Some rhyme, some don’t. They mostly stick to around 14 lines but They’re also not at all shy about incorporating contemporary references (the Rolling Stones, telephones, etc). Today, we’d like to challenge you to write your own sonnet. Incorporate tradition as much or as little as you like – while keeping in general to the theme of “love.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

My weekends are hectic and yesterday didn’t allow me to sit down and write. Today, I found a bit of time to dash out a poem based on the previous day’s prompt, as well as this silly, delusional sonnet below. It’s a ‘sonnet’ only because it has 14 lines. And it’s delusional, because… well, you’ll see. There’s not much about love in it, unless it’s a love of sleep. I’m exhausted and the exhaustion is popping up on the page. If I started having dreams about going to bed, that’s a sign of some kind, isn’t it?

PS–Day 9 poem has expired, but here’s Willow scaling a cliff.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 8

Today’s prompt: “This is another oldie-but-goodie. I remember being assigned to use it in a college poetry class, and loving the result. It really pushes you to use specific details, and to work on “conducting” the poem as it grows, instead of trying to force the poem to be one thing or another in particular. The prompt is called the “Twenty Little Poetry Projects,” and was originally developed by Jim Simmerman.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

PS–Day 8 poem has expired, but here’s Willow finding her inner beast.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 7

Today’s prompt: “Start by reading James Tate’s poem “The List of Famous Hats.” Now, write a poem that plays with the idea of a list. Tate’s poem is a list that isn’t – he never gets beyond the first entry. You could try to write a such a non-list, but a couple of other ideas would be to create a list of ingredients, or a list of entries in an index. A self-portrait (or a portrait of someone close to you) in the form of a such a list could be very funny. Another way into this prompt might be a list of instructions.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

The piece I wrote in response to this prompt started as a poem and ended up as something else. It’s a hybrid thingie that borrowed some details from my life, while taking great liberties with the truth. I wanted it to be a poem and I wanted it to be funny and I’m afraid it’s neither. But whatever it is, I’m glad it’s here.

PS–Day 7 piece has expired, but here’s Willow being larger than life.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 6

Today’s prompt: “Take a look around Poetry International for a poem in a language you don’t know. For example, I grabbed this one in Finnish by Olli Heikkonen. Now, read the poem to yourself, thinking about the sound and shape of the words, and the degree to which they remind you of words in your own language. Use those correspondences as the basis for a new poem.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

I’m posting two poems today (for day 6 and day 5). I came down with a cold in the past couple of days; yesterday I was miserable and couldn’t find the energy to write. Nothing that enormous quantities of spiced tea and cuddling with Willow won’t cure, however. I’m feeling much better today as a result and ready to sink my teeth in whatever challenge NaPoWriMo throws my way. So happy to see the foreign language prompt–always a favorite. While I can deduce some meaning from texts written in Romance and Slavic languages, I find most languages infinitely mysterious. Finnish is right at the top of my terra incognita list, so I chose a poem by Finnish poet Sirkka Turkka. See the original below, followed by my “translation.” After reading the legit translation of this poem, I can firmly declare that translating from Finnish is not one of my strong suits.

PS–Day 6 poem has expired, but here’s Willow watching the sunset over Lac Leman.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 5

Today’s prompt: “Begin by reading Charles Simic’s poem “The Melon.” It would be easy to call the poem dark, but as they say, if you didn’t have darkness, you wouldn’t know what light is. Or vice versa. The poem illuminates the juxtaposition between grief and joy, sorrow and reprieve. For today’s challenge, write a poem in which laughter comes at what might otherwise seem an inappropriate moment – or one that the poem invites the reader to think of as inappropriate.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

I wonder if I made myself more ill yesterday by refusing to write this poem. Several lines came to me but I pushed them to the back of my mind. This is a tough subject to write about. I have so many contradictory feelings when I remember the moment described in the poem. Shame, guilt, but also affection and longing. Today I wanted to heed Natalie Goldberg’s advice: “Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.” Here’s a poem that split me open. It’s about the last time I saw my mother. I didn’t think I had more poems in me about my mother, but here it is.

PS–Day 5 poem has expired, but here’s Willow at our favorite waterfall.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 4

Today’s prompt asks us to “try writing triolets. A triolet is an eight-line poem. All the lines are in iambic tetramenter (for a total of eight syllables per line), and the first, fourth, and seventh lines are identical, as are the second and final lines. This means that the poem begins and ends with the same couplet. Beyond this, there is a tight rhyme scheme (helped along by the repetition of lines) ) — ABaAabAB.”

“Triolets were in vogue among the Victorians — all those repetitions can add a sort of melancholy gravitas to a poem, but watch out! They can also make the poem sound oddly gong-like. A playful, satirical poem, on the other hand, can be easily written in the triolet form, especially if you can find a way to make the non-repeating lines slightly change the meaning of the repeated ones.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

I love triolets. I find the constraints of the form and the line repetition very freeing somehow. Here are two triolets I wrote today (one somber, one less so), followed by two triolets I wrote in the past few years, also for NaPoWriMo (again, one somber, one less so). Not all of their lines are in iambic tetrameter, but what is a rule meant for if not to be broken once in a while?

PS–Day 4 poems have expired, but here’s Willow making me feel better.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 3

Today’s prompt asks us to find “a shortish poem that you like, and rewrite each line, replacing each word (or as many words as you can) with words that mean the opposite. For example, you might turn “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” to “I won’t contrast you with a winter’s night.” Your first draft of this kind of “opposite” poem will likely need a little polishing, but this is a fun way to respond to a poem you like, while also learning how that poem’s rhetorical strategies really work. (It’s sort of like taking a radio apart and putting it back together, but for poetry).” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

The poem I chose is by Linda Pastan, one of my poetry heroes, whose work has often inspired and uplifted me. We lost her a few days ago. Her beautiful poem “Dreams” is followed by my rather loose reverse translation.

PS–Day 3 poem has expired, but here’s Willow being extremely saucy and preventing me from working.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 2

Today’s prompt introduced us to Paul Celan’s surrealist questions and answers and asked us “to begin by picking 5-10 words from the following list: owl, generator, fog, river, clove, miracle, cyclops, oyster, mercurial, seaweed, gutter, artillery, salt, elusive, thunder, ghost, acorn, cheese, longing, cowbird, truffle, quahog, song. Next, write out a question for each word that you’ve selected,” then “for each question, write a one-line answer. Try to make the answer an image, and don’t worry about strict logic. These are surrealist answers, after all! After you’ve written out your series of questions and answers, place all the answers, without the questions, on a new page. See if you can make a poem of just the answers. You may find that what you have is very beautifully mysterious, and somehow has its own logic.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

I love Celan’s work and I’m head over heels with the process this prompt unleashed. I want to do something like this every day of my life. I chose to write a circular questionnaire using all the words from the list, plus the word “question” toward the end, so that I could return to the beginning (as in, the first question is also the last).

PS–Day 2 poem has expired, but here’s Willow looking for fish.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 1

Today’s prompt: “They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but they never said you can’t try to write a poem based on a book cover — and that’s your challenge for today! Take a look through Public Domain Review’s article on “The Art of Book Covers.” Some of the featured covers are beautiful. Some are distressing. Some are just plain weird (I’m looking at you, “Mr Sweet Potatoes”). With any luck, one or more of these will catch your fancy, and open your mind to some poetic insights.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

I love many of the book covers featured in the article, but my attention alighted on the first one and stayed there: Felix Schloemp’s Das unheimliche Buch. There are a few possible translations: The Scary Book, The Spooky Book, The Eerie Book, or The Uncanny Book. The first translation is probably the closest to the original, but I like the sound of the last one the best.

The bit of research I did on the book didn’t reveal a whole lot. Felix Schloemp was the book’s editor, born in Leipzig in 1880 and deceased in Russia of all places in 1916. I don’t know whether he died in WWI or as a result of the upcoming Russian Revolution. He was only 36. The Uncanny Book was published just two years prior to his death and contains supernatural stories by well-known writers like Heinrich Mann, Frédéric Boutet, Gustav Meyrink, Edgar Allan Poe, J.P. Jacobsen, and E.T.A. Hoffmann. By 1938, during the National Socialist era, the book was on the list of harmful and undesirable literature and targeted during Nazi book burnings. I wish I spoke at least a shred of German, because this book cover really tickles my imagination. I find it poignant as well, knowing what happened after it came into the world. Here’s my stab at the prompt. The (mostly) noun capitalizations are a tribute to the book’s language. I find that capitalizations make everything strange, as well as strangely (possibly misleadingly) important.

PS–Day 1 poem has expired, but here’s Willow being inquisitive.

NaPoWriMo 2023, Day 0

Today’s prompt challenges us to “write a poem that plays with the idea of a “fun fact.” Your fact could actually be fun – or the whole point could be that it’s not fun. Maybe you have a favorite wacky fact already, but if not, Mental Floss’s “Amazing Fact Generator” is here to help!” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

Here’s my early bird effort, in response to the first amazing fact that popped up in the generator: When your “inner voice” speaks in your head, it triggers small muscle movements in your larynx. And I just realized that the early bird metaphor may have had something to do with the direction of this poem. Thank you, NaPoWriMo!

PS–Day 0 poem has expired, but here’s Willow sleeping with Cow Cow.

96 thoughts on “NaPoWriMo 2023

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  1. Remarkable work on Day 20 prompt, dear Romana. What is your mind made of; what do you feed it, I mean. Lovely. So beautiful — your mind, I mean. You have an amazing start on a novel. Wow. Kinda reminds me of the novel, The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russel I started reading a long time ago but never finished — it was too intricate for my pea sized brain.
    Enjoyed being in your world. Wow. Blessing you. Xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Day Twenty-One
  3. Just when I think I’ve seen all your wonders, you surprise me with yet another poetic treat. Wow! The last line is so powerful. We can choose to break the cycle. We can. And we must. Also, this “They tasted like old age.” made me smile.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Day 18– If only the lessons in Chemistry were this entertaining when I was in school, I would’ve stuck it out with the sciences–if only:) This was a super abecedarian poem Romana.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Day 15. Uncanny, how my muse didn’t show up for day 15 either.
    But, unlike you, I spent the day with human friends instead. And let it be. Wasn’t sure she’d show up today. She did. But she was very doubtful of me — you’ve seen the result, I see 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely, Romana. I have been feeling the same this year. The muse is playing hard to get. I can’t seem to hear her, though I know she’s there somewhere. I hope so. Your words are poetry in itself. It was such a delight reading you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your Day 14 parody – I’m sure that doing a villanelle parody would have been a challenge, but you nailed it! I love how you made changes to your repeating lines intead of leaving them static. It worked very well!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Day 12.

    “I’d put in an absence and you had a mother.” felt the pain this line carries–a vast space full of longing.
    And a foreboding of abandonment with this–“Was she busy
    making Adam from clay?”

    You lay bare that which is often hidden –with your words.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Day 9 and that sonnet–a Royal groundhog day or just another life-as -usual for a busy mother of young children– I can’t decide yet but enjoyed reading it for sure.
    Your writing produces so many Aha! moments for me from how does she do it to O! that’s so clever.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Day 8 and the crow– the images you paint with your world sweep me off into their whirlpools Romana. I enjoy the immersion. Also like the way you used clay and branches in the piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I hope you’re feeling better Romana. Have just read your Day 5 poem.

    All I can say is I’m glad you have Natalie Goldberg’s words to guide you to pour the pain out.

    Sending you hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The raw energy of your Day 6 poem is so palpable, it jumps off my laptop screen — keeps me spellbound till the last syllable.
    Love this : “annoyed
    that I’m still here, while the poems howl:
    we want more pain.”

    Introspection of a poet.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Damn, I missed the triolets. Thank you for replacing them with Willow. 🙂 But I’m really glad that I didn’t miss your Day 5 poem. I heard that laughter and pain. Wishing you excellent cuddling and soon back to health.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Absolutely love ‘Where Is My Kibble?’ It’s such a solid piece of friendship on offer in eight lines. And who doesn’t like a foodie friend! Ha! Ha!

    Thank you for writing about your process. Feeling skin-less with first drafts on the one hand and wanting to be able to submit poems to journals who have rules about blog sharing on the other, can be tricky.

    Looking forward to your poems this month.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I especially like the one about the dog.
    Did you see the article the editor of Rattle wrote about ditching the term unpublished and changing it to uncurated? I’m sorry you aren’t leaving your poems up at least for the month–it often takes me a few days to get around to reading things. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t seen the article yet, but I like the idea. I’m trying something new this year based on previous experience and I like how it feels so far. I’ve had to hunt down my drafts on the internet in past years, so I’m trying to avoid doing that again. Many of these pieces will come back once I’ve worked on them some more and placed them in a journal. The important thing is that I’m writing. Thank you for stopping by, K.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s hard to organize what we write so we can find it again I know. I copy and save all my posts now–I didn’t know to do that when I started. But finding something specific is difficult unless you’ve tagged it well.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. What a grand treat. Four for day Four. You’re so generous, Romana. Thanks. The Easter Morning one was full of melody like bells tolling happily. How lovely. Thanks did sharing. Appreciate you. Xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Romana, I love Linda Pastan’s poem, and I love your loose translation of it.

    Reality is a mixed bag, an in-
    between we get wrong
    again and again; a time, not a place,
    in which the parents we are
    comfort ineptly
    the parents we become.

    So true, so beautiful, and so haunting. I’m so happy to read you again! (I finally am trying to take part this year, after last year’s absolute crash and burn…)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m trying very hard to get back into writing! Life hijacked me for a while – a lot happened, but…I promised Gloria I would try, so here I am, and I am always thrilled to visit your page and read your beautiful words. ❤ I'm not always on time, because the energy issues are very real after extended illness but it's always a treat!

        Liked by 1 person

  18. The rewrite is even more splendid than the original. So cool:
    in her best dress and heels
    walks >>> into the sea!” this is funny…

    “The cat >>> awake all night,
    bloodshot gaze…
    danger prowls the edge >>> ready to pounce!” The imagery of these lines are delightful.
    Thanks so much for sharing. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  19. “It is as singular as a leaf
    caught in suspension, as an egg
    about to hatch that we cannot see” – when I came to these lines I scrolled back to check the original! this works!

    Love how poetic you made the reversal!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Oh, my, Romana Lorga. I’m not surprised — this is amazing. And how long did it take you to think that up? Wow! You rock.
    That shadow you’ll feel following you around this month will be mine.
    Spectacular month it will be.
    Thanks for the joy that reading this brought me. Here’s looking at you 🍻 (change beer to milkshake if you like) 👍🏼🤩 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thank you for the poem, I did not know the fact and love how you personally coined it. I hope you enjoy the poetry month, and that you do save the drafts in some way, even if you don’t end up revising them right away, or at all – because I think we sometimes forget that one of the biggest joys of Napo is just sitting and writing and feeling and being inspired, no matter the strength of tailorship for our poems.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. It’s a treat to hear you singing again, Romana “…A tiny bird, fluttering.
    Caught in my throat since before I was born.
    In a cage made of flesh. Starving,
    because I can’t remember feeding it, ever.
    Sometimes it sings, but it’s only
    loud enough when I’m silent. …”

    Liked by 3 people

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