A Poetry Project for National Poetry Month

Happy World Poetry Day!

I thought unveiling my upcoming poetry project for April’s National Poetry month would be a prime way to celebrate World Poetry Day. For April I plan on doing my usual reading – let’s act like my current fiction reading slump is fiction – but I want to bump it up a notch and go hog wild with poetry. I’m planning on re-reading Sylvia Plath’s Ariel collection in April, but my primary focus for April (and the upcoming year) is to read the hell out of some contemporary poets. Mary Oliver and Sharon Olds are two of my favorites, but I’m yearning to discover some new to me poets. I found several new to me poets this year. Kristine Ong Muslim sent me her collection Lifeboat to review and I should have that review up this week; right now I’m taking a second pass through the collection. Muslim’s collection paired with the Georgia Poetry Circuit’s last reading with Margot Schlipp and Jeff Mock further stoked my poetry bug. I have a poetry wishlist a mile long.

There will be more than reading poetry happening at chez Fig and Thistle. I’m going to don my big girl panties and get back to slinging some verse. Surprised? Poetry is my favorite to write. The constant honing, shaping, and forming of each word and line is deliciously satisfying. If I put my hand at writing fiction I simply drone on and on. Whack that story down into a poem and I have something that brings me satisfaction and joy. I’m not saying I’m particularly skilled at writing poetry, but it certainly gets my brain tingling.

Y’all I’m signing up for NaPoWriMo. NaPoWriMo challenges writers to produce 30 poems in 30 days. I heard about NaPoWriMo from poet Margot Schlipp at her February reading at my university. She said she sometimes challenges herself to write a poem a day in April – just a rough draft – and then works off of that bundle of 30 poems for the next year. Obviously some of it gets set to the side, but some of it turns into really wonderful poems. I mentioned waiting until the kids got older to write and Schlipp promptly shut that excuse down. She has two daughters, editoral responsbilities, a professorship, travel, etc… and the woman still finds time to write. Point taken.

There’s another element to this poetry project. Sam will have his senior show for the art portion of his degree (he’s majoring in art education) next spring and he is focusing on printmaking. He is amazing at printmaking! For his show he will be creating prints for a poetry collection… my poetry collection. We’re doing a collaboration with me providing the words and Sam providing the art. I’m excited and nervous. This should be fun and it will give us something creative to work on together.

To recap, in April I will be reading and writing poetry like a madwoman. I’m already assembling a pile of collections to read and I have several poetry magazines I’m checking out. Ever the office supply junkie, I’m in search for the perfect notebook for my 30 poems in 30 days challenge. Sam and I have arranged for me to wake-up early each morning and go to the McDonald’s down the street to write for an hour or two. Exciting times!

Let me know if you’re participating in NaPoWriMo or if you have favorite poems, literary magazines, or poets you think I’d like. I’m ready to dig into to some poetry!




  1. Now, if I can only meet my own standard this year! Glad to hear you’re going to try NaPoWrMo-ing!! Cheers, Margot

  2. LOVE this. I’ve got 3 or 4 poetry books on my TBR shelf. Now I have motivation to “assign” myself some reading in April. You never cease to inspire me. I’m not sure the world would welcome my own efforts, so for now I’ll just stick with reading and not writing. 😉

  3. A poem a day is a great goal! That project sounds tempting but scary, so I might end up just watching from the sidelines. I’m also planning to read poetry this month for the Reading New England challenge — I want to find some contemporary poets as well as revisiting old favorites.

  4. This sounds great, Amanda! I’m a big reader of poetry–if you’re looking for contemporary poets, I feature a poem every Thursday on the blog (most are contemporary, a few older poems in the mix). Happy reading!

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