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NPM ’16 – What I learned

SpendItAll-Dillard

The entire quote from which the above is taken:

“One of the few things I know about writing is this: Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book, give it, give it all, give it now… Some more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.” – Annie Dillard

I once had the quote by Annie Dillard (above) pinned to my bulletin board. It was encouragement to be less hesitant to use my “good ideas”  (what if I never got another one…) and to share my writing. This last month I have put it into practice perhaps more than ever before. For not only did I write a new poem every day but  also published daily here on this blog.

I think I enjoyed April of 2016 poetically more than any National Poetry month till now. I’m sure that’s because I put more into it in several ways. Here are some things I learned about myself and the writing process.

1. The fact that I was determined to post a poem every day had me working harder and more purposefully than other years when I wrote daily but didn’t go public.

2. I got a lot out of following other poets’ projects. Here are some of the April 2016 poem series that I enjoyed a lot:

Mary Lee Hahn’s series inspired by old photos.

Donna Smith’s series inspired by vanity license plates.

– Irene Latham’s series “Art Speak” inspired by paintings (many that involved food, to go with her latest published project Fresh Delicious).

– Amy L. Vanderwater’s series “Wallow in Wonder” inspired by the daily questions at Wonderopolis.

Margaret Simon’s series inspired by photographic images.

– Doraine Bennett’s series “Feet in a Creek” inspired by specific poems of favorite poets.

Heidi Mordhorst’s series of poetry paired with music.

– And of course, being part of the 2016 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem.

These series got me thinking that on another year I’d like to write to a theme.

3. Writing daily has helped me feel more relaxed about the process. It has showed me that if you sit with an idea for a while, something usually surfaces. The wonderful thing about poetry is that it can be about anything. When I give what James Scott Bell calls “the boys in the basement” the assignment to come up with an idea, they usually do. It helps, though, to be patient and respect the process.  Here’s how I described that process some years ago

Some Poems

Some poems appear like lightning
an epiphany moment
of illuminating clarity

Others are a groping hand-over-hand
out of the well of experience
into the light of meaning

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

4. Finally, what kept me going most was the companionship of my writing friend Laurel. She joined me in this challenge by publishing a new poem of her own almost every day on her blog Four Parts Hope. There’s nothing like a poet buddy to keep one on track. Thanks Laurel!

Thanks, as well, to all who came by and read these daily April postings!

I will now resume my usual pedestrian schedule of one or two posts per week.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2016 in Personal, Writing

 

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I Remember … (NPM ’16-Day 30)

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Story time with Aunt Helen

I Remember…

I remember the holes in the green roll-down blinds
and how they looked like a starry sky.

I remember caramel-colored fly paper
hanging twisty from the ceiling
dotted with black.

I remember making cakes and cookies
when we got to play with water in the sandbox.

I remember lying sick on the couch
and how the flowers in the living room curtains
became faces.

I remember story time with Aunt Helen.

I remember angel food cake
and strawberries with whipped cream
for every birthday.

I remember licking the beaters.

I remember Saturday work
and how much I hated it.

I remember washing the cream separator last
and how slimy the dishcloth got
in old soap and lukewarm water.

I remember early wash day mornings
with the sounds of the chugging machine
and daddy playing quartet records
while he waited for another load
to hang on the line.

I remember starting the fire in the sleigh—
the smell of kerosene and smoke
and how one side of my leg
would soon be sunburn-hot.

I remember grape juice and pop—
our Christmas dinner “wine.”

I remember frosty spring mornings
and cracking crystal ice.

I remember spring evenings
full of the drone and ribbet of frogs.

I remember the smell of earth
and the wind holding its breath
just before a summer rain.

I remember the gentle sound of grazing chickens
on summer holiday mornings.

I remember how prickly nervous I got
gathering eggs from nesting hens.

I remember the smell of the kitchen
when Mom made pickles.

I remember the smell of wheat
in the fall when Dad was combining.

I remember the sweet-sour caramel crab-apples
Mom made for fall picnics.

I remember reading
till 2:00 or 3:00 a.m.
and wishing Anne of Green Gables
was my friend.

©2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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I decided to take the April 29th NaPoWriMo challenge of writing an “I remember’ poem:

“… write a poem based on things you remember. Try to focus on specific details, and don’t worry about whether the memories are of important events, or are connected to each other.”

I discovered, once I got started, it was hard to stop! The poem contains only a few of my memories. Are they anything like yours?

And with that I come to the end of  poem-a-day National Poetry Month 2016! It was fun posting a new poem every day, even though sometimes a little hectic. Of the 30 poems I published this April, 28 were newly written this month. Thanks for all who came by to read and leave a comment!

I’ll now get back to my usual about twice-a-week posting schedule.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on April 30, 2016 in People, Personal

 

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Wild Rose Roundabout (NPM ’16-Day 29)

Wild Rose Roundabout

I unfurl my face to you—
now that it’s almost May.
It was a juicy April
with lots of wet-root days.
To January and February’s sparrows and chickadees
my shriveled red ancestors were food.
Leaves paled and lost their grip
driven crazy by November’s gales.
Ripening in August heat,
hard green hips blushed.
It was a May ago
my forbears smiled their last on you.

My forbears smiled their last on you—
it was a May ago.
Hard green hips blushed,
ripening in August heat.
Driven crazy by November’s gales
leaves paled and lost their grip.
My shriveled red ancestors were food
to January and February’s sparrows and chickadees.
With lots of wet-root days
it was a juicy April.
Now that it’s almost May
I unfurl my face to you.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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The April 28th prompt at NaPoWriMo was to write a story poem—backwards. We saw the first wild rose blossoms on our walk yesterday morning, roses were on my mind, so I decided to write a wild rose story.

The challenge to write a Reverso poem (a poem in which the lines are reversed bottom to top, making a second stanza or an entirely new poem) has also been circulating around the Poetry Friday network. So I tinkered with my story until it worked as a Reverso poem of sorts.

However, there is at least one aspect of a Reverso that my poem doesn’t satisfy. In a genuine Reverso, the meaning changes when you change directions. I know I have not achieved that.

 

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2016 in Form poems, Nature, Objects

 

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ICSPOTS (NPM ’16-Day 28)

One of the most fun parts of this April has been following the projects of various Poetry Friday friends. Donna, at Mainely Write, for example, has been posting vanity license plates she has photographed, a day for each letter of the alphabet, and using one of the day’s plates as a poem prompt.

When Adele Kenny’s blog (one of the places I check daily for poem-writing ideas) linked the poem “Which Way is Up?”—the thoughts of poet Tony Gruenewald on seeing a vanity plate flash by him on the road—I thought immediately of Donna’s project.

I surfed over to her website and on browsing through the variety of plates, a semblance of order began to suggest itself to me and, voila—a found poem!  Donna has generously allowed me to use plate photos from her blog for ICSPOTS. (Thanks Donna!)

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© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly, Photos by Donna Smith (All rights reserved)

In case you didn’t get the message via the plate lingo, here it is, in translation (with my additions in parentheses):

Icy Spots(?)

Whatever
Look up,
Love Jesu
North Star.

Oh my—
Are you salt?
Misfit?
(It’s) OK.

Kiddos,
Anchor D(own).
Rejoice.
You are loved.

We (are) grateful
You be brave,
Überkül (Extra cool)
Smoov (Smooth)

VN.

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Buffy Silverman at Buffy’s Blog.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on April 28, 2016 in Found, Personal, Poetry Friday, Religious

 

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No! (NPM ’16-Day 27)

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Photo: Pixabay.com

No!

lower the ceiling
stop dreaming and get real
distract the appetite
.    with cold water and celery
wipe that smile off your face
snuff out the candle of “what if…?”
turn off the music
leave the room
.   and don’t forget to close the door

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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The poem “Yes” by Catherine Doty (Adele Kenny’s poem prompt for April 24th) gave rise to this contrarian response.

In her Tips on how we might use the poems she links, Ms. Kenny says:

1. Don’t feel compelled to match your content to the examples—in fact, do just the opposite and make your poems as different as you possibly can. The inspiration titles and the example poems are only intended to trigger some poetry-spark that’s unique to you, to guide your thinking a little—don’t let them enter too deeply into your poems, don’t let their content become your content.

2. Let your reactions to the key words and poems surprise you. Begin with no expectations, and let your poems take you where they want to go.

I guess that happened with “No!”

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 27, 2016 in Personal

 

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Nicomekl Nightlife (NPM ’16-Day 26)

My poetry buddy, Laurel, and I walk different sections of the same path—a gravel and asphalt trail that follows Nicomekl Creek. Her yesterday’s poem, “Nicomekl’s Regulars,” about the people that walk the path,  was pitch-perfect.

But the path—at least the section of it that my husband and I walk—has another  cast of characters with another life, a night life. Though we’ve never walked it at night, we’re left with lots of clues of nighttime activity.

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The jettisoned mattress – Photo © 2016 by V. Nesdoly

Nicomekl Nightlife

After dark the trail’s dog-walkers
spandex-joggers, stroller-mothers and duck-feeders
give way to Nicomekl nightlife.

Hoodie-clad gangs with aerosol cans,
attracted by fresh paint and the already-graffiti’d
bridge underbelly, leave their mark.

Lean, weathered man rattles cart
over gravel to sheltered spot, jettisons mattress,
unrolls sleeping bag, curls up for the night.

Metal-hungry scrounger drags TV prey
under the bridge to eviscerate.
Leaves skeleton and innards for dead.

Roving tribe of tent-dwellers appear—one night
on the stream-bank, the next almost hidden
in new-leafed shrubs, the next under spreading oak.

Night ladies leave a trail of boots, pink bags, frilly tops,
night men—jeans, ball caps, jackets, undershirts.
Somehow a shopping cart lands in the stream.

A plank on the wooden bridge greets morning
black-charred. Across the creek
a blanket-nest lies abandoned.

Restless night segues too soon
to birdsong-raucous day.
Path, exhausted, dozes under returning

and happily predictable dog-walkers,
spandex-joggers, stroller-mothers, and a greying pair
that stride along every morning between 8 and 9.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)
 
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Posted by on April 26, 2016 in People

 

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Poetry wants a day off (NPM ’16-Day 25)

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Poetry wants a day off

Spring wind is chill today.
Words refuse to come out to play.
There seems to be nothing left to say.
It must be Monday.

The clock keeps ticking—no delay
The days creep on in their rigid array.
I will send my muse a fresh bouquet
for a better poem on Tuesday.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

(Photo courtesy Pixabay.com)

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 25, 2016 in Writing

 

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