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!


Let’s start things off with less pressure: haiku

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


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!

national poetry month, Prompts

April is National Poetry Month!

Happy poetry month everyone!

There will be a few changes going on with my site over the next month, but I will be sure to share poetry prompts for each day below!

Stay tuned each day for a new prompt!

April 1 – Imagine you are underwater. Describe the feeling. Fear? Euphoria? What do you see? How is the landscape underwater different than above? Are you in a river, a lake, an ocean, somewhere else? What makes this place different than previous encounters with water?

April 2 – Use these words: sunshine, electric, bicycle, fourteen, forgive

April 3 – A house can be many things. Describe your house, exterior/interior, but don’t be literal. Embrace the magic of the place.

April 4 – Happy Easter! Include all the colors of the rainbow in your poem!

April 5 – Tell me a story, muse, from the perspective of something very small. Be it an ant, a fox, the petal of a daffodil, a coffee bean… Put yourself in its “shoes” and look at the world from a different angle.

April 6 – Pick a road from your life. Describe its details, curves, edges, landscapes. Think of where that road took you. Add a pineapple to the poem.

April 7 – Take a book from your bookshelf and turn to page 29. Take the third word, the fifteenth word, and the thirtieth word. Do this for at least three more books. Cobble together a poem.

April 8 – The sun was do bright today! Write a love song to her.

April 9 – Go to the NASA Hubble site and find an image on the page that speaks to you. Write a poem about the language of stars and include the nearest living thing (pet, plant, person) in your poem.

April 10 – Sometimes we need to step away from writing to become inspired. Today’s prompt isn’t to write, but to observe. Take a walk around your neighborhood. Observe the people you pass, the cars, the animals. What makes the houses unique to your neck of the woods? What features of the landscape does only your town have? Do you call them treelawns, devil strips, or just grass between the sidewalk and the road? Do the trees bloom in spring or summer? Are you stepping on maple buds, magnolia petals, cracks in the sidewalk? Don’t worry about remembering everything, in fact don’t even worry about writing it down later. Just observe, take it all in.

April 11 – Take a fairy tale and rewrite it for modern times; include a harmonica in your poem. Suggestions: The Six Swans, The Juniper Tree, Hansel and Gretel.

April 12 – Today my grandmother turned 93, so let’s write about aging.

April 13 – Write about the way sound travels through walls, the tinniness, the almost hearing the words that we do as we strain to listen, the accidental eavesdropping.

April 14 – Write an ode to a spring weed. My ode is to the mock strawberry sprouting in my flowerbeds.

April 15 – Petrichor is the smell of rain after warm weather. Write me a poem that inhabits that same space.

April 16 – Time for form! Your choice: Sonnet, Villanelle, or Ghazal. You can find more about these forms by searching them here.

April 17 – Today is for ekphrastic writing. Find an artist featured at your local art museum or gallery and browse their online catalog until a work speaks to you. Take your train of thought and follow it to whatever diving hole it seeks. The artwork need not be the focus of your poem, just a place to begin and see where it leads you.

April 18 – I think music is a big part of poetry, but when I listen to songs with lyrics I often can’t come up with my own words. So it’s time to find some instrumental music! Find an instrumental track from a film or video game that you haven’t watched or played and write where the music takes you!

April 19 – Reach back into your childhood and write a new nursery rhyme. Don’t forget the sing-songy meter and the nonsensical occasions of childlike wonder!

April 20 – Take yourself back to your most angsty days and channel that energy into a poem. But instead of indescribable emotion, focus on turning that angst into startling pairs of words or comparisons. For example anger becomes volcano staccato and crying makes your cheeks like soil-soaked roots.

April 21 – Snow? In April? Ohio, you’re crazy! I don’t know if we should write an elegy to Spring, an ode to Snow, or something entirely different. Write about a surprise like this: waking up to four inches of snow on your blooming cherry tree.

April 22 – Write a recipe for a good poem. What ingredients do you need and how much? What’s the prep? How do you cook a good poem? Bake? Saute? Summer? Fry?

April 23 – When I’m stuck, I go to the classics. Here’s Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” – take it as inspiration to look at something natural in your life in 13 ways.

April 24 – Take inspiration from the warm weather. Write about what happens in the heat.

April 25 – Write a poem telling about sharing a meal with someone you don’t know.

April 26 – Alien day! Write a poem about something escaping your chest.

April 27 – Write a poem with a pool noodle and an immaculate medal in it.

April 28 – Poetry can be found in everyday tasks if we choose to look for it. Turn some chore you do around your home into a poem.

April 29 – We have heavy rain today, turning the weeds, grass, and lichen on the trees super green. Write about that freshness, the vibrancy that comes from a good spring rain.

April 30 – The end of the month means we write an elegy. Remember something beautiful, something lost. This past year has been so hard, but so many of us have cultivated new parts of ourselves. We cannot forget to mourn, at least remember what we’ve left behind. My own mourning comes for the time spent with friends, the closeness of a meal shared at a table, the cheers of beer glasses, the hugs.

published work, Readings

Poetry that Responds // New Poem!

Due to the Covid-19 quarantine in Ohio, the Ekphrastacy April 2020 event at Heights Arts in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, was cancelled. Fortunately the staff at HA got together and had us poets record our poems for a virtual ekphrastacy!

My poem “Invisible Storm” is up on Heights Arts’ website. It was inspired by “Black Horse” by Jean Hoffman.

Black Horse artwork by Jean Hoffman