If I were a poet, celebrations of National Poetry month would likely include the writing of some really great poetry. Since I am not a poet, every year I use the celebration as an excuse to write some really bad poetry. This may seem an odd way to celebrate the art of making, of poesis, but because these scribbles require attention, they produce increased respect for craft. By treating the writing of poetry like inquisitive play, I’m given a gift: every happy failure committed to paper causes my appreciation for the really good stuff to go up like a bottle rocket. So even the playful writing of bad poetry feels like one “right” response to the month’s intention.
One way to think of poetry is it’s a making that captures in literary form what might otherwise run down the drain with the dishwater. Moments. Images. A glance. New ways of seeing something familiar. Considering that a miniature form might suit my non-poetic soul, this year I turned again to Gail Sher in her lovely book One Continuous Mistake: Four Nobel Truths for Writers and her suggestion to write a haiku a day. She suggested six months. Fearing such a commitment too deep for a dabbler, I tried six days, and even in that brief span found myself growing more aware and open to fresh perceptions.
Sher’s introduction “Guidelines for Beginning Writers of Haiku” is elegant, simple, inviting. She sketches the three levels on which a haiku works, and suggests a writer capture the “instantaneous now.“ Ah, I thought. This is welcome discipline in the midst of my “too-much-to-do-in-too-little-time” daily race.Today I noticed the rain puddling—intense colors in the gray light—and a swelling gratitude for reminders to breathe deeply, settle, aim for clarity.
Which poems have you tried writing, or carried with you, to celebrate the month?