Sunday 1 May 2011

NaPoWriMo happily ends. And ends happily.

April is over, at last. From beginning to end, I was moving house, packing, cleaning, arranging, sorting, recycling, taking to the charity shop, tossing, lifting, carrying, giving away on Freecycle, selling on eBay, and so on. Though I rented a van on the 8th for the bulk of the move, I was going to and from, cleaning and moving, up through the 29th. But now it's done, and I've a week's holiday in Pembrokeshire, courtesy of a wonderful trade I made with a poetry student, doing everything I could toward helping her with her pamphlet in exchange for a week at her cottage. I'm hoping it was a good deal on both sides.

So doing NaPoWriMo this month was tough. For the first time I included haiku and senryu. It wasn't a conscious decision; after reading a friend's haiku book manuscript, I found haiku emerged almost daily. It was a real pleasure to be walking in my new city of Bath, see some detail in the landscape--purple wisteria two stories up the face of a Georgian terrace, a robin chattering away on a telephone wire, and have the image transform little by little into words, then a short poem. In May I mean to revisit my haiku and senryu manuscript, The Broken Kite, and see where it is and what it needs to be complete.

The other great pleasure of this attempt at NaPoWriMo was the number of responses I received here on the blog from others who'd joined me. It was great to hear from Charles, Jimmy, Alan, Karen, Linda, Jennifer, John, Aisling, Jim, Helen, Graham, Frank, Tony, Rob, Jenny, Hazel, Catherine, Joanne, Zara, Valerie, Aidan, Mike, Cat, and Kenny--thank you all so much for your posts! It was interesting and encouraging to hear about others' experiences with the challenge, and it heartened me every time somebody posted a new comment.

I think it's largely because of the active presence of the company this time that I finally did it: I got 30 poems in 30 days--there are even a few good ones. Thanks so much to all who joined me! Hurrah!


  1. That was terrific fun. I managed a haiku plus another poem every day, and didn't 'cheat' once. Some days I even wrote an extra poem. They're not masterpieces, of course, but that's over sixty poems to play around with and edit and tweak until they turn into something worth singing about. When I thought I was getting a bit stale towards the middle of the month I spent a few days in London, and the huge contrast in pace of life/scenery/people set me off again. There are few things as inspirational as watching a cormorant on the Thames try and fail to swallow a flatfish nearly as big as a plaice.

  2. I'm also very glad I participated. I managed 27, most of them short, and many of them haiku, but as my poetry output's been so slim lately, I was thrilled even with that. Whether they're good or not, I don't know, but the month reminded me of how much I get out of the process. Thanks!

  3. I wrote ten poems in fifteen days, then came down with a stomach bug which kept me company for the next four or five days so didn't feel much like writing new stuff or even reworking what I'd already written, so I went back to old stuff and finished off half a dozen or so. I know that sounds like a lot but it was only a line or two in most cases or editing a bit. It then took a while to get back into writing anything new but towards the end of April I started work on a new piece which so far hasn't amounted to much, and worked on a couple of the pieces I'd started earlier in the month. In the end I managed eleven in thirty days. Maybe next year I'll reach the dizzy heights of twelve...Kenny

  4. Aisling Tempany10:14 pm

    Ha, I was terrible, and didn't make it past day 10. But, it did put poetry writing back in my mind.

    I'd never attempted this kind of thing before. I mean, I can't even stick to the Special K plan!

  5. Hmm - and I thought I was too busy to write! Well done you.
    For me, the very idea of writing every day never got beyond Day 2 and throughout the month there were certainly a lot more days of no writing than there were days of writing.
    On the other hand, on a few of the days I did write, I wrote a lot. Final total only five poems (fewer than March, in fact) ... BUT one of those came in at about 500 words, and one at just past 2,000, probably the longest I've ever written. How much, if any, will survive the revision process remains a big unknown for now, of course.

  6. It was exhausting but I committed to both NaPoWriMo and the NaHaiWriMo writing prompts that carried on through the month of NaPoWriMo.

    So I wrote 32 haiku mostly in the style of gendai for NaPoWriMo, and 30 plus haiku of different styles for NaHaiWriMo, now I need a break! ;-)

    As a NaPoWriMo challenge I didn’t just go for haiku in its shasei format, but went for the more difficult gendai style.

    gendai haiku:

    It should be our method that we create haiku which match the times. This is not a new idea and was prevalent in the old days; even Sanki Saito wrote about it before the association existed. Sanki believed:

    "To the difficult question 'what is new?'

    I will answer: the new means how the emotions of today's society and people are expressed to fit the times. The haiku must be innovative in any time.

    So we should begin and continue to express the emotions of the people of this time and generation."

    (Gendai Haiku, S.21.10)

    Kiyoko Uda
    President, Modern Haiku Association
    Tokyo, JAPAN
    (English Translation: Akiko Takazawa)

    Here are just some of my gendai style haiku, either in three line construct or as one-line haiku (monostich) format:

    don't trust the cat
    her eyes green the earth
    with anti-matter

    NaPoWriMo concupiscence challenge:

    Emperor of Ice-Cream
    my life as concupiscence
    in a kitchen stanza

    A nod to Wallace Stevens and thanks to The Columbia History of American Poetry. Ed. Jay Parini and Brett C. Miller. New York: Columbia UP, 1993.

    I shine your chin of gold
    and dimities of blue

    from the lunar surface
    the universe my shoe

    Allusions (a key part of Japanese haiku) to Emily Dickinson

    corn chaff realising oil as one colour

    field of dreams an unborn child's color isn't rapeseed

    These two are politically motivated but cloaked as shasei haiku if you want to just read the horizontal axis of meaning.

    Pharmakós the name you scratch inside

    A nod to the senior military officer who wrote a poem after he witnessed the 911 Pentagon attack. His poem is now part of the big poetry and art project led by Bob Holman and Jeff Koons.

    Red Sea
    stone fish penetrate
    my rubber soul

    An Easter gendai.

    starlight and memory the sneeze of a one-eyed dog

    zeros and ones
    Monsieur Verdoux
    takes a bow

    future waterfalls
    new angel DNA bursts out
    from dancing pinheads

    This last one is a nod to Ban’ya Natsuishi, a foremost gendai poet.

    all my best,

    Alan Summers

  7. Oh, those are excellent! Here are a few of my own haiku, which don't begin to compare, but I'm going to put them here anyway.

    heron eats cheese
    pigeon eats ham sandwich –
    London wildlife

    seagull calls
    from Hungerford Bridge:
    Waterloo sunset's fine

    sun beats down
    on row of glinting Morgans:
    hot cars

    sandpipers bob
    at water’s edge:
    insects’ end

  8. I crashed and burned after 20 or so poems. We did move house last week, but then you moved too so I can't use that as an excuse... I enjoyed it though, as ever, and got some good drafts from it, I think/hope.

  9. Hazel4:30 pm

    This was such a good exercise... I got to 25 days of writing - sometimes revising.. sometimes notes..then two days which I thought i would catch up bit didn't... wrote again in May 1,2,3 to try and make up. BUT its my first time next year I hope to do better/more. As it is I have started quite a few, finished a few and written one or two new ones. Thanks for the support X

  10. Linda Black10:35 pm

    Though I didn't manage to keep it up, what I did do was fruitful - I took 2 of the poems to my workshop last night and the responses were really encouraging. It's great having a bank of ideas to return to.