Shelley Widhalm recites poetry at a seasonal reading in 2016 at the Loveland Museum/Gallery. She will be part of a reading there April 15.
By Shelley Widhalm
April is my favorite month for three reasons—it’s spring, it’s the month of my birthday and it’s National Poetry Month.
To celebrate the celebration of poetry, the Community Poets in Loveland, Colo., will present In Just Spring with a poetry reading, music and storytelling at the Loveland Museum/Gallery on April 15. National Poetry Month was organized in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry during the month of April.
The Community Poets chose the name for the reading to reflect E.E. Cummings’ poem [in Just-] about mud, puddles and the springtime. The reading is part of the seasonal equinox and solstice readings the group hosts four times a year. The group organizes the readings and other poetry-related activities, including visits from poets and poetry workshops, to get the local community interested and engaged in the poetic discipline.
The Poetry Reading
The reading, which will be 1-3 p.m., will feature 45 minutes of an open mike, where the public will be invited to read one poem, followed by the regular reading with 10 invited readers.
The Community Poets invited me to be one of the readers who will recite two springtime-themed, lighthearted poems. I’ll be reading a poem about sparrows and the second about The Squirrel Man who feeds the squirrels near the lagoon where I like to run and walk my dog. The two poems come from my Poem-a-Day Challenge.
Since September 2017, I’ve written a poem a day—not literally, because I have to do lots of fill-in-the-blanks and catch-ups, but it equals out to a daily dose of poetry. From this challenge, I have learned a few things about daily writing that makes it fun and not feel like a chore.
To find a poem (especially daily), here are a few things you can do:
- Pay attention to the one thing from the day that strikes you—an interesting happening or something you notice. Describe it to yourself and say you’ll write it later.
- Write the poem even if you don’t feel like it, not worrying about quality.
- Write haikus of 5, 7, 5 syllables. The more you do them, the easier they are to do, and you can do them quickly and still get in your poem for the day.
- Write a crappy first poem and maybe a second and then let the good poems show up.
- Don’t wait for inspiration or the right circumstances to right the poem, just write it.
- Use the senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and tasting) to describe an observation or experience. Thinking about them will allow you to access better descriptions.
- Play around with words and descriptions, or simply put words on the page and rearrange them.
- Be specific in your descriptions, avoiding clichés and general terms, instead favoring concrete terms, such as red-twig dogwood over tree. Here’s a line from one of my poems about dogwoods: “Red-twig dogwood/ crayon marks across/ gray winter light.”
One Last Thing
Lastly, have fun with the writing. Writing poetry makes you a better writer in other genres, such as fiction, blogs and articles, because it makes you think about description and language while also getting across what you want to say about the topic.