national poetry month, poetry

Aubade for Poetry Month

Another morning shifts into view like frost receding from rooftops, the unexpected cold of April’s end. The sheets are warm with your body, the imprint next to me where your hand pressed the mattress. Now entropy. I have to leave this space and wake the baby. I finger the edge of the comforter will-less to leave. You snort in your sleep. Our parting is the same every morning. In one motion I’m sitting on the edge of the bed and throwing open the curtains–the sun shouts GOOD MORNING on the walls and throws the light across your face. Your eyelids screw up because even in half sleep you can feel the light.

national poetry month, poetry, Prompts

National Poetry Month: Aubade

Happy earth day! Let’s talk aubade.

Also known as the dawn song, the aubade greets the morning with joy and grieves the loss of the night. It flows from the darkness into the brightness of dawn, remembering the togetherness of night between lovers.

The poem comes from as earliest as the twelfth century, but the dawn song transcends borders and can be found in many cultures.

Two great examples of aubade are “The Sun Rising” by John Donne and Emily Skaja‚Äôs “Aubade with Attention to Pathos“.

When you write an aubade, pay attention to the theme of passing from night to sunrise, and know that you don’t have to use the parting of lovers, just as Philip Larkin chose not to in his poem “Aubade.”

national poetry month, poetry

Ghazal for Poetry Month

Sliver of the icicle from a clogged gutter in April, wind like a spray // of water, biting raw our cheeks and hands held to pray.

A rolling over in my belly, again. You awaken like spring // should be. Up with the hyacinths and daffodils opening petals to pray.

Sticky fingers in my hair, ringing curls around your index // together we smell like peanut butter, a scent to teach me to pray.

When you climb the stairs alone, my back turned, your smile grows // like spring urgency or crocus bursting among new grass to pray.

Pray for sunshine. Golden hair as you run from me, a shriek as joyful as a prayer. // The robins scatter at your approach and you reach your hands out to pray.

national poetry month, poetry, Prompts

National Poetry Month: ghazal

The ghazal! An Arabic poetic form originating from the 7th century that relies on repetition and lingers between the pain of loss and the beauty of love despite the loss. It’s absolutely gorgeous, but incredibly difficult to pull off in English.

ghazals must have at least five rhyming couplets or bayts and can have as many as fifteen. The couplets are linked thematically but not necessarily in situation or story. ghazals thrive in the abstract. Each couplet ends with the same refrain, which rhymes with the first line of the first couplet (AA BA CA, etc.).

There are stringent rules for ghazal forms, but in English, poets often use just those mentioned above as guiding principles.

Agha Shahid Ali is a well known Kashmiri poet whose poem Ghazal can be found here.

A contemporary interpretation of the ghazal appears in Evie Shockley’s poem where you are planted here.

national poetry month, poetry

My Sonnet for Poetry Month

Bright cold sun of April, the northwest winds

whipping your cheeks red and spreading

the first of the season’s pollen. Shock of yellow

Daffodils holding on through sleet and snow cover

reminders of the coming warmth. You pick handfuls

of stems and spread them on the concrete

leaving trails of green against the composite

like the slick a snail leaves behind.

I love you in your discovery. This new world

you find, this bright cold place you embrace

as only a child could. The sky opens blue

and streaks with robins and you pierce

the noisy silence with your laughter. A temporary

moment I will hold onto forever.

national poetry month, poetry, Prompts

Poetry Month: Sonnet

The elusive sonnet. Shakespearean, Petrarchan, traditional or modern, love them or hate them. There’s so much scholarship out there about sonnets, but my favorite is definitely Stephen Fry’s section on sonnets from The Ode Less Travelled. Learning about ancient metered poetic forms from a comedian really does it for me! Here’s an excerpt:

Excerpt from Stephen Fry’s chapter “The Sonnet” from The Ode Less Travelled

So for a prompt, try a sonnet. Whatever that means to you. Could be traditional, metered, rhyming, or not. But keep the Volta! The beautiful turn in line nine (or thereabouts) that shifts the poem. That I think is true embodiment of a sonnet, in whatever form you make it. Oh and 14 lines of course!

national poetry month, poetry, Prompts

Happy National Poetry Month

I am thrilled to share another wonderful April of poetry with you all!

Local highlights this month include:

-April 7, Flying Words Project at Kent State

-April 9, “How Do We Talk To Each Other?” The Cleveland Humanities Festival

-April 21, Ekphrastacy at Heights Arts

-April 24-May 1, Lakefront Cleveland Poetry Festival, including workshops, open mic, and the CSU Poetry Center Lighthouse Reading on May 1.

-April 29, Poem In Your Pocket Day

If you know of anymore events I can add to this list, please let me know!

Every year, I share a month-long list of poetry prompts for National Poetry Month. However, this years prompts will look a little different from the last few years. Instead of posting every day, I’ve decided to upload every few days and include a prompt, along with a formal poem in celebration of this great month. I want to challenge myself to write more poetry and to write more poetry in form, at that. I hope that I can end this month with at least five poems in form, whether that’s sonnet, haiku, villanelle, terza rima, ghazal, etc. I hope that you will participate with me!

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Let’s start things off with less pressure: haiku

cold threads early spring.
icicles down the maple
branches. sunny sky.

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And here’s a prompt for the first few days, mull it over!

Write a few lines describing a setting you know well that’s easy to picture: snow on pine trees, the back row of a classroom. Establish the scene with sensory details (don’t forget visual/sight isn’t the only sense we perceive in a place). Then have your poem twist, go somewhere very different, whether spatially or thematically, from where you started. (adapted from Billy Collins’ Masterclass)

Happy Poetry Month! Happy April! Happy Writing!