A Poem for A President, 2009

The day President Obama was inaugurated, I listened to part of the inauguration as I was driving. A poem came to mind, nearly fully formed.

I rushed to my destination to get it written, and after a quick editorial pass, it was done. It is playful and light, and celebrates the moment for what it was–a moment. And even now, eight years later, I think it one of the better ones I have written post college.

I have shown this poem to practically no one.

I suspect it is silly of me to wish to divorce a poem of this topic from the politics, to have to stand as I believe it to be, rather than have it burdened by the weight of the divide that politics create.

I suspect that is silly–but I am silly.

So it sits, restless, I imagine, on my hard drive. It has been read aloud, recorded even, but always in solitude.

In the end, I fear, the angry, ugly side of the response to something political is simply not worth the chance.

Which is unfortunate.

The only real regret at this moment is that I didn’t make any attempt to send it to him while he was in office. I know the chance he’d see it is very small, but I’d like to think he’d appreciate it.

So, You Want To Write Poetry, Part Four

Life, Death, Love

When we think of poetry, we often associate them with these three–attaching poetry with emotion, the spontaneous overflow, as Whitman called it.

These things, however, are too big for your poem. They will rip it apart at the seams. The weight is too much.

This is not to say you cannot write a poem with these elements. I dare say poetry and language itself owes quite a bit to these things.

But yours is not a poem about LOVE, rather it is about your love. But even then your love for someone is a huge thing, and will not fit on a page.

Instead your poem is about a moment–breakfast two years after your wedding; the wilted flowers in the vase from your first date; the stolen glance back when you saw them dancing as they walked away from your first kiss.

Don’t put a net around the galaxy and try to hold it in lines of poetry. Instead look at the moment for poetry, find the whole galaxy in the sparrow on the window sill.

Keep your images tight as well. “Love” or “Death” may bring a grocery list of things to mind, but a list of those things is not as strong poem as a poem about each thing is.

So focus your poetry on the moment, the specific.

And in these small moments, you’ll say what you need to about life, love and death.

Poetry Challenges, A Year in Review

At the begining of 2016 I proposed three poetry challenges for 2016. They were:

So how did you do? How did I do? Mixed, but overall good. Let’s take a look.

April Poems

April poems is something I’ve done a few years now, and suspect will continue to do for a while. Write a poem each day in April. It is the poetry nanowrimo, and for me, has had mostly good results.

This year was no different from 2011 and 2015, in that the collection was a bit random, with things from poems that came on strong, to the tired scribbles made before bed.

April Poems: Recommended!

1 in 12

This challenge was one I thought of. The idea was simple: write a poem in January. Then, write the same poem again in February, and March, etc. One poem, twelve times. The thought was that you would be editing, but also bringing in the elements of the year itself into the piece.

This one didn’t work for me. The reason was quite evident very early on: I didn’t like the poem I wrote in January.

And here is the hard part about this challenge: you have to start with a base that is worth coming back to 11 more times.

I think there is still something here in this challenge, and with a new take, or tweak on the bounds, it could very well be interesting. But for now…

1 in 12: Needs work….

Monday Poems

For Monday poems, the plan was simple: each Monday, take 5 minutes and reflect on the past week, then take another 5 minutes and write a simple poem.

This was fairly straight forward, and successful for me. Admittedly there were a few that weren’t written on Monday, but I did write one a week.

This too, I think I will keep going with. It is a good writing habit, and even if the poem made isn’t high art, it is both a good practice and a neat way to keep some memories.

Monday Poems: Recommended!


For 2017, I plan to do both April Poems and Monday Poems. Between now and the New Years, think of a new challenge(s?) to go along with them. I intend 2017 to be a year filled with art, and hope you’ll come along with me.