Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Poem a Day—Commitment

Last year, I wrote almost two-hundred poems.  I wrote a poem a day in April, June, and October, and even in months where I didn’t consciously set out to write a poem a day, I wrote between ten and twenty poems.  I took a poetry class online through StoryCircle Network and wrote five or six poems from each weekly prompt. So this year, as I thought about my writing goals, I committed to writing a poem a day.  William Stafford did it.  E.E. Cummings did it from the ages of 8-22.  It’s a practice I’ve always envied, and I’ve toyed with it, spending six months in 2014 writing a haiku a day.

It’s interesting to me how I build up to these habits. I test myself to see if it’s possible, and if it seems possible, I go for it. 

Anyway, on the fourth day of this new year, I hit a wall.  I didn’t write until late.  My son was headed back to college.  My other son was coming home from his fiancee’s family.  My husband was sick.  I wasn’t feeling too good myself.  But the commitment I’d made was important.  

And I’d had practice.  The first month I wrote a poem a day was September 2014 in response to the West Florida Literary Federation’s Poem-A-Day Challenge.  They posted prompts.  I could write from prompts.

A blurry photograph, for your inspiration.  
Last October, I wrote a poem a day from a photograph by one of my favorite photographers.  I could write from images. 

I looked for news' photographs. Blah. None of the photographs inspired, but in one of them, the skier launching from the jump left a blur in his wake.  I’d just gotten new glasses with big lenses that often get dirty.  So, it didn’t take long for me to begin a poem about things not seen clearly, and when I got to the end, I noticed it was fourteen lines, so I went back in and played with the form and turned the draft into a modern sonnet.

Today when I sat down to write, I’d just dropped my son at the airport.  I wasn’t inspired, but that commitment thing nagged.  What if, I thought, I pulled a word out of the last poem and wrote another sonnet.  So I did.  And I love it. 

And I never would have written it if I hadn’t kept my commitment to write a poem a day.  Soon, I’ll post some of the other little tricks I play on myself to find inspiration when it seems elusive.  But now, I’ll give you my two words—smudge and inter.  What will you do with them?

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