The no-prompt Poetry Month exercise experiment

This year, no daily prompts, no poems-a-days.

Instead, an exercise. A poetry exercise. Daily.


During a Q & A session at Seattle Arts & Lectures, I heard Robert Currie say that he was more of a process person–didn’t really care if there was ever a finished product–and Anne Carson was more of a product person (she laughed in agreement).

Writing a poem a day has, for me, a huge emphasis on product. Even William Stafford’s “bad poem before breakfast” advice implies a completed poem.

But when I write, I usually don’t write in a linear way. I don’t have a poem at the end, I have some writing. After days–maybe spread across weeks or longer–I will find some of that writing and piece it together into a poem. And then revise. Send out. Maybe revise again.

Trying to have a poem at the end of every day is incredibly stressful, and most of my Poetry Month poems rest in their electronic folders and go nowhere.

I want to get them somewhere. I want to use process to get to product.

So dust off your old poems and get them into (some new) shape. Or, if you’re committed to a new poem a day, check out Robert Lee Brewer’s prompts. Or peruse your newspaper and write about something you read in it. Then, if you want to work or play, stop by. The exercises will mostly come from Wing Beats II and A Poet’s Companion. I’ll be here for all of April.

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