Keep enough bookish friends around, and you’ll hear about NaNoWriMo every November. I’ve always wistfully declined to participate; a month dedicated to writing in the dreary fall only serves to remind me of the mother of all unfinished writing projects–my dissertation. But when I heard of NaPoWriMo for the first time last week, I was intrigued. And hopeful. April may be the cruelest month, but it is also spring, brimming with optimism and new plans.
Several years ago, a friend and I attempted to complete a haiku year. We didn’t always get around to posting one each day, and I fell somewhat short of keeping it up for a full year. But while it lasted, I enjoyed taking a few moments out of every day to quietly recollect and crystallize a moment, a feeling, or a scene–like a little meditation practice. Better yet, we got several other people on board, and it was truly a pleasure to read those short, sharp insights into the minds of my friends and acquaintances. I miss it, but my periodic renewals don’t seem to last.
Realistically, writing a full poem every day is overly ambitious for someone quite out of the habit, particularly while I’m already working on the subway and over the lunch break to keep up with my freelance deadlines. So I have decided to make a modified commitment:
I will read one poem every day. Whether the poems are old favorites, or from pages in an anthology opened at random, or presented to me by way of publications I read, I’ll read them purposefully, out loud, and possibly more than once. Then on the seventh day each week, I’ll write a poem in response to one or more of the poems I read during the week.
I think that will feel good. Which, for me, is the point.
If you’re planning to do NaPoWriMo, or maybe want to try a modified version or to start a haiku month or to do a readalong and enjoy the sociality of talking about poems with other people, drop a line in the comments. These time-limited dedications to writing work best with the gentle pressure of peer participation.