April 2020 Poetry Challenge

When I started this poetry challenge in January of 2020 I thought it would be fun to get back in touch with the art form I’d loved so much as a teenager.

Poetry is about emotion.

I’m a rather stoic person, usually, so emotions aren’t something I share. I think that’s the basic reason why poetry always spoke to me. 

But, it turns out, a pandemic that keeps me trapped in my house really puts a damper on my poetic soul. That’s not to say I’m not feeling things … because I totally am. It’s more just that my emotional range this month has been basically zero. I’m feeling the same cooped up, anxious, productive and yet stressed feelings every day. The poems fall a little flat when that’s all you feel. Anyway, here’s what I posted for the poetry challenge this month. 


THE POEMS

April 2: The prompt was “safe in this cocoon”

I felt pretty confident letting my quarantine emotions flow this early in the challenge. It was, after all, only April 2. I was hopeful I would see a prompt on this list that didn’t make me think of quarantine. Surely there would be one on this list that would speak to better times, right? I didn’t feel so bad letting this one be about quarantine. I was sure I’d fix it later. The result was my first quarantine inspired poem in April. 


April 3: Use the form of haibun

Well, first off, I didn’t have a clue what haibun poetry was. I had to Google it. Somewhere there’s a group of people I taught poetry to who were under the impression I knew every type of poem that existed in the world. They’re shocked right now. The rest of us, who know that would be an impossible feat, are not as surprised. 

Anyway, I learned a haibun is a prose poem ending in a haiku. They are typically about nature. I actually really enjoyed this particular form. It combined lyrical writing (which I love) with a short haiku (which I love). Pretty neat!

At first glance, you may be thinking I broke away from my quarantine inspired poems here. Alas, that is not the case. This poem was inspired by our daily bike rides to escape (you guessed it) quarantine. I’m pretty sure we literally took a bike ride through the desert on April 2 that truly inspired this poem. 

No, this is not a picture of the desert near my house. That would be cool but I didn’t have my camera when we took the bike ride. 


April 8: “better than diamonds”

April 8 me: “Remember, be inspired to write about something other than quarantine. Anything at all. Just not about quarantine.”

Opens prompt.

“Dang it.”

At this point you probably notice I’m not writing poetry every day. I should explain a bit. I have the prompts saved on my phone. I check them (almost) daily (sometimes I don’t look on the weekends). Some days I immediately get an idea where I want to go with this prompt (those days become a poem). Some days I like it, so I jot it down on a piece of paper. I may come back to those later (those days become a poem) or I may get busy and forget. Some days I stare at it for a while and cannot think of where I would go with it. Obviously, a lot of those avenues dead end at no-poem-for-today drive. 

Anyway, this one obviously spoke to me right away. It was speaking quarantine though (again) so I almost didn’t post it. I also noticed (after I posted) that it’s not my first poem that uses dialogue. I guess that’s sort of my thing. Conversation as poetry. I actually like that. Look at me, trendsetting. 


April 9: Use the form “concrete”

I actually knew this form without having to look it up. Concrete poems (popular in my classrooms over the years) are poems that take the shape of the subject. I took it a little outside the box here because I was writing about SPRING which doesn’t technically have a form. So I gave it one. 

This is the first poem for April that isn’t about quarantine in some way. I was mostly just thinking about what Spring used to mean. I guess it still means all this. I see flowers and signs of Spring when we walk or bike ride. Plus, if you subscribe to my YouTube channel you know the birds are still hanging around. Spring is here, folks. Enjoy.

P.S. YES, this poem had that much white space at the top. Was it intentional? Sort of. Can I explain it? Not really. At the time, I liked it. Now, I can’t remember why I liked it.


April 14: “messy endings”

YAY! An actual, no-way-around-it, this-isn’t-about-quarantine poem! It only took two weeks of looking at prompts to get there. 

Fun Fact: I’m happily married to my own real messy ending type guy. He knows we’re not perfect and we like our imperfect life. 


April 23: Use the form pastoral

Another one I didn’t know! A quick Google search told me a pastoral poem is essentially a poem celebrating the simple life (think shephards on a pasture). It’s idyllic and calm, essentially. Well, I live in the middle of a dang city and anything I write about living the simple life on a farm is going to be either 

a) memories of a really long time ago or 

b) a total guess on my part. 

My first instinct was to write about the peace and calm we’re experiencing with this quarantine, HA. But I stopped that urge (you’re welcome) in favor of not all my poems being about the same topic. 

Fun Fact: I grew up in an old farmhouse. The farm was no longer in use, but the quiet life was still basically there. 

For this poem I decided to tap into those memories in order to try and capture the essence of a pastoral poem. I don’t hate the product. 


Conclusion

I still love poetry and the passion for writing poems that let some emotion out is still there. But this month has been ROUGH emotionally for a lot of reasons. I think the poetry suffered for it.

I’m not quitting the challenge.

I’ll be back in May with more and, hopefully, I’ll like them better at the end of the day!

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