sequences

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Happy Poetry Month! Are you ready to write poems? Are you ready to explore sequences?

Let’s get started. But how?

Because we’re looking at sequences, let’s start by choosing an event, because an event has a chronology you can build on, a direction you can go (or back track from).

So what haunts you? What do you think about over and over–in the unexpected moments?

Maybe the event you choose is something that happened to the world or maybe it’s something that happened to you. It can be something from the week’s news or something from another century or before history.

I admit that as I’ve thought about events, I’ve tended to dwell on cataclysms or disasters, natural or otherwise:
Fukushima
The earthquake in Haiti
Katrina
The Potato Famine
Pompeii

or shootings (sadly, too many to list here)

But an event could be positive, too. The end or Apartheid in South Africa. The passage of the 19th amendment in the U.S.

And an event could be something personal–for example, a birth or a death.

Now, with your event in mind, take 3-5 minutes to write a list of images or words. The list helps warm you up, and it provides a resource as you write through the month.

Pick one word.

Write 5 first lines using that word. Why 5? To help explore different aspects of your event. Starting with 5 choices can show you some different paths.

Pick one of those lines and use it to start your poem.

Bonus option: Choose a number of lines ahead of time–14 or 10 or 24 or your favorite number. Keep your poem–and each poem in this sequence–to that many lines.

Tomorrow, I’ll share my favorite line, and I’ll invite you to share yours.

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long stairwayCan you write a book in a month? I think you can–certainly a chapbook. And what better time to try than NaPoWriMo.

I’m always trying to find ways to work on projects, poems that fit together into a whole. For poetry month, my goal is to provide prompts that will give you a body of work that, by the end of the month, could be a book–or a really good start on a book. Last year, the prompts were partly successful. Some of them built on each other, but then I threw in some random prompts–okay on their own, but not integrated into a project.

This year, I want to try working with sequences. So the prompts will be designed to work with each other, while giving you something new each day. We’ll run with a sequence for awhile, and then break it up with a stand-alone poem (so we can catch our breath). Then on to another sequence.

If you don’t want to do the sequences, feel free to hop in at anytime and use that day’s prompt to write a poem. It will work that way, too–but I want to give you the option for stringing it all together. Plus, with sequences, you don’t have to come up with as many fabulous titles. (Writing titles–spectacular titles–confounds me.)

Another change for this year–instead of posting each day’s poem and then scurrying to take it down a day later, I’m going to post my favorite line from the previous day’s poem–and I’ll invite you to share your favorite line from your poem.

To get a head start, think about an event that’s stuck with you. It might be something personal. It might be something historic that you wonder about in quiet moments. It might be a natural disaster. Just think about what haunts you. You don’t have to know why–you’ll have a month to figure that out.

And here’s another warm-up: After you’ve decided on your event, think about the voice it needs. Who writes in a voice like that? Read poems by them. That will be one of my endeavors over the weekend.

I’ll confess: It’s all a little daunting. But it will be fun. It’s supposed to be fun. It is a grand generative experiment. It’s one way to write a book.

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