Five Unexpected Benefits of 30 Poems in 30 Days

poemsThis is the first year I’ve committed to writing a poem every day during National Poetry Month. So far so good! In the past, it has always felt a little gimmicky or forced. Now that I am doing it, it feels like neither of those things. Perhaps it is like so many things in life–you get out of it what you put into it.

Of course there are the obvious benefits: a cache of poems to work on and a helpful flexing of the poetic muscle. But, I have discovered several delightful consequences, as well.  Taking up the 30-poems-in-30-days challenge has forced me to…

1. think about poetry throughout the entire day

Because I am looking for poetry, every act, every delay, every bird, every item on the shopping list feels poetic. Since poetry is a slow process for me, thinking about poetry throughout the day slows me down, which is a good thing. It puts me into a poetry-writing frame of mind. And in a more contemplative mood. I carrying that with me through my day.

2. organize my poetry files

Each individual Word Document is labeled by day of the month and saved in a new folder April Poemsidentically named on both my hard drive and also in Dropbox. This enables me to feel organized which in turn puts me into a better frame of mind for writing a poem. And, I am rewarded by seeing the number of poems I am writing arrayed chronologically. That feels like progress.

3. remember that poetry is everywhere and in everything

For instance, I observed two ducks outside the entrance of an abandoned grocery story. They looked like they were arguing. Knowing that ducks mate for life, I thought, that is not unlike human couples who have squabbles from time to time. Because I am looking for poetry, I made a connection I may never have made otherwise. It made that moment in my day more interesting.

4. get creative with my poems

I’ve been exploring list poems, concrete poetry, experimental, traditional forms, found poetry, series, and more. I am trying to expand my definition of poetry as well. It is easy to get into a rut. I am using this forced-writing approach to reconsider my habits.

5. read other people’s poems more deeply

I have made it a personal quest to analyze other poets’ work more closely as I write my own poems this month. I am asking: How is she doing what she’s doing?, What is this poem about?, How is this sound being created? In some cases, I am mimicking line lengths, rhythms, forms, and style of poems written by poets whose work I admire. It is very useful.

If I end up with one good poem this month, it will have been worth it. If nothing else, I will have a pile of poems to review, revise, and cannibalize. It’s not too late to start. I’d love to hear what value others are seeing (or not seeing) with this approach.

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12 Responses to Five Unexpected Benefits of 30 Poems in 30 Days

  1. Manisha says:

    What a wonderful idea to challenge yourself and assess your limits! All the best!

  2. This is the second time I’ve done a poem-a-day challenge. Like last time, it was hard to start, but having hit my stride, it is flowing. Last time, I wasn’t sure that it would amount to anything more than exercises, then I suddenly wrote a poem that turned out to be my poem of the year for 2012. So, there’s a lot to be said for priming the pump!

  3. David Mohler says:

    Loved this. Thank you.

  4. I love this account of your daily experience. I have participated the past several years in the April poem-a-day adventure, and it has always benefited me. This year, due to being in a play, I had to stop mid-month, alas, but now I am thinking I might take it up again mid-May!

    • Grace Curtis says:

      A play! How exciting. It’s good to hear from a seasoned poet like you, Kathleen, that the effort is worthwhile. I got a couple of good starts out of the batch this year. It looks like I need to continue this practice. Thank you for commenting.

  5. linda codega says:

    this seems like a great start for a chapbook manuscript!

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