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Is this your first ever National Poetry Month challenge?

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Is this your first ever National Poetry Month challenge?

Post by Gyppo » Mon Mar 29, 2021 2:45 pm

How does writing thirty poems in thirty days work?  It's an odd event and having taken part a few times over the last several years I may have some useful advice for newcomers.  Some of this will be contradictory, so feel free to choose what works for you, or at least looks promising, and ignore the rest.

If you thrive on pressure then it's going to be a great stimulus.

If you hate being under pressure then look at it this way.  Nobody says you have to write thirty perfectly crafted poems in the month.  Allow yourself to write some also-ran stuff, and the occasional real stinker.  But don't judge them until they're finished.

One of the main reasons for anything being unfinished is that people start picking holes in their own work before they have the whole fabric to look at.  

One of the greatest things about tackling 30/30 is this simple fact. It's impossible to write thirty bad poems in a row.  Even if you deliberately try.   The law of averages is on your side.

Ask yourself what usually triggers your personal urge to write a poem.  Is it an image, an overheard comment, or just a stray thought which calls you to wrap it in words?

What is a poem?  We could argue about this forever.  This argument provides another excuse for not writing.  So for April how about just telling yourself that a poem is anything you want to call a poem?

I normally write prose, so for me a poem tends to be an image or an emotion captured in a few lines.  Very rarely more than a screen full of words.  I tend towards what are called concrete images, descriptions based on very real objects.  Vague intangibles don't usually work for me.

But isn't the readers interpretation more important than what you write?  Yes and no.  Sometimes readers will find things in your words which you never imagined.  Sometimes the reader is a sick puppy ;-)  Now there's an idea for a poem, the feelings of the owner of an ill pup.

Returning to what works for you.

There are folks who join in every year, and generally speaking they have a personal style in that they tend to write rhyming or non-rhyming verse.  They tend to write short or long, succinct or meandering.  

But...  Ideas come from all over the place and some ideas don't suit that poet's predominant style.  This is probably where some drop out.

Others will struggle to make it fit what they want and then decide to try something different.  Same idea but expressed outside their usual comfort zone.  They'll pack that big idea into four short lines, or let it run wild like a weed and sprawl over several screens of text.  At the end of the day they may not like it, but the first draft will be finished.


30/30 is about getting a first draft completed.  People often go back weeks later and rewrite some of their outpourings.  It's much easier to rewrite than it is to fill a blank page.

I've been writing ever since I realised I could.  Storytelling since I started talking.  Poetry however comes and goes  ;-)

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