Writing/finding a poem is just like getting a coffee shop gift card for Christmas. Oh, the joy!
By Shelley Widhalm
I fell off the Poem-A-Day Challenge bandwagon and want to get back on, so I made a deal with myself—two daily poems until I catch up. To do so will take 14 days of double poem dipping.
The Poem-A-Day Challenge, which I learned about from Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, is something I undertook Sept. 1 to write a poem a day, and for the first month-and-a-half, I did a good job—I wrote poems every day, but then I made excuses—I’m too busy, I’m not inspired, I don’t want to turn my laptop back on, or I don’t want to take out paper and pen (because then I’ll have to do double work of writing the poem and then typing it up).
As I get back on the wagon with my poetry, I have to come up with some new poems about winter. Though I love Christmas, as you can see by my joy over gifts and coffee shop gift cards, I am not so fond of January and after the Happy New Year when it’s bitter cold with overachieving snow piles.
A Poetry Reading
The poems will be for a poetry reading, “Seasonal Poetry: A Winter’s Night,” on Dec. 17 with the tagline “in celebration of the winter solstice, where poets will celebrate the darks and lights of winter.” The reading will be 1-3 p.m. at the Loveland Museum/Gallery, 503 N. Lincoln Ave., presented by The Regional Poets.
I have a tiny collection of poems about winter, mainly about barren tree branches and leaves scuttling along all broken and stuff, but they won’t work. I need to write about the theme.
To wait for inspiration to write the poems is unreliable—and for me, poems arrive very infrequently if I sit around and think, “Come here, Poems!”
Alternatively, showing up for daily poem writing results in a few bad poems and even more good ones. As part of the daily poem challenge, I’ve written a lot of haikus, because they’re short. At first, I thought I was “cheating,” but now see that I’ve improved in a couple of ways. I can write them quickly and count the syllables as I do so—it’s harder than it seems the whole-5-7-5 formula.
Some Poetry Advice
Here are a few tricks I use to be show up for poetry:
- Use the senses—seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and tasting—to capture thoughts, ideas, feelings and observations.
- Play around with words and descriptions, or simply put words on the page and rearrange them.
- Avoid using clichés, generalities and vague concepts, like love or war.
- Avoid overusing trite words, such as hearts and tears, opting for comparisons and concrete language instead.
- Be specific in descriptions.
Once the poem is written, cut excess words, such as “and,” “the” and extra descriptors. Give the poem a title that fits with the message that also is intriguing and draws in the reader.
And write another poem. Keep the momentum going.