8 things I learned by writing a poem every day of Lent

I’ve been meaning to write a post since Lent ended – because I achieved my aim, of writing a poem every day during Lent! Some were definitely hastily written at 11.30pm – witness my only haiku – but there are quite a few I’m pleased with, and it was a good experiment (albeit one I was glad to finish). I feel like it got me more into the habit of writing, as well as showing me where I need to learn more about poetry.

Lent poetry book

And here are eight things I learned – as well as a list of all the titles, because that seems quite fun to me. I love titles, me.

1.) There don’t seem to be as many poetic forms as I thought

One fun thing was trying my hand at a variety of poetic forms – and I think I ended up liking these more disciplined poems most. I wrote a sestina, two sonnets, a villanelle, a triolet, found poetry (using a recipe book), and the aforementioned haiku. I even wrote a limerick in French. (It is important to note that I don’t speak French.)

But I found it difficult to track down many more types of poetic form – beyond a dozen variants of the haiku.

2.) I made up some forms

I daresay I’m not the first to do these – but I play around a bit. I took all the words of ‘Nurse’s Song’ by William Blake (from Songs of Experience) and rearranged them to make a different poem. I took one of my poems and put it through Chinese Google Translate three times to make a different poem. Less experimentally, I kept returning to an abcdc rhyme scheme, which I liked (and which I used on day one).

3.) Free verse were my cheat days

This is absolutely not what free verse should be, I know, but when it was the form I turned to when I wanted to write a poem quickly. My apologies to proper poets.

4.) RhymeZone and Oxford Dictionaries Thesaurus became among my most-visited sites on my phone

I spent so much time on these, trying to find a synonym that had the right stresses, or a word that rhymed with ‘own’.

5.) My favourite poems meant something

Reading them over, it’s the most personal poems that I like best – though I can’t decide if that’s because they mean the most, or because I wrote better when they hit closest to home.

6.) It’s hard not to be earnest

I wrote a few comic verses, and enjoyed it, but I always seemed to be far too earnest as soon as I picked up the pen. Which is annoying, because I try to keep a light, witty element in almost any prose I write (“Does he?” you ask) and I need to remove that block.

7.) Poetry Prompts was useful

Poetry Prompts is a handy Tumblr which I often flicked through when I was out of ideas – and it would often give me an idea for a line or image, even if it didn’t end up being the theme of the whole poem.

8.) It’s way more fun than giving up chocolate


And here are all the titles I wrote over the 46 days of Lent:

  1. Beginning
  2. The Man Who Loved Virginia Woolf Too Much
  3. A Rope at Chawton
  4. February Sonnet
  5. Hands
  6. The Best Laid Plans
  7. Mirror in the Attic: a Sestina
  8. Chickens and Hens
  9. On the Surprise of the Inevitable
  10. Ellen
  11. John and Joan Were Off to the Coast
  12. Morning
  13. Needs Must
  14. Defeat
  15. The Three Little Pigs
  16. Crumb
  17. 8pm Phone Call
  18. Goldilocks: Philosopher
  19. As Brittle as She Was
  20. She
  21. World Poetry Day
  22. No Regrets
  23. Westminster Bridge, March 2017
  24. My Personal Blitz
  25. She Wears Pearls to the Supermarket
  26. Frowning
  27. Unbliss
  28. Innocence From Experience
  29. At a Wedding
  30. Burn all the Candles
  31. Still Life
  32. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  33. In Translation
  34. Coffee Shop Limbo
  35. On Being a Bad Poet Because of the Theatre
  36. Piano Lessons
  37. Coffee Shop Limbo (2)
  38. Certain Women
  39. Une erreur poétique
  40. Good Things (A Villanelle)
  41. In Translation in Translation
  42. Do Poets Ever Smile?
  43. Railway Station Triolet
  44. Sundial
  45. Good Friday
  46. Split Ends

11 thoughts on “8 things I learned by writing a poem every day of Lent

  • April 28, 2017 at 2:07 am

    Well done Simon. Enjoyed following your efforts. When I moved to Tasmania my workmates in the USA wrote me goodbye poem. What was funny about it was the only word they could find that rhymed with Tasmania was schizophrenia. It made for hilarious reading. I love to try my hand at the sestina. It exercises the brain wonderfully. I look forward to further lent challengesnyou may do in future! 🎶🎶🎶

  • April 28, 2017 at 11:14 am

    I think that’s such an achievement, Simon, and like Annabel I’d love to read more of your verse! Well done – I think anything that makes us do something creative every day has to be good!

  • April 28, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    I loved the few poems you did share, so I also ask for MORE! Oh, and happy Arbor Day!

  • April 29, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    Please publish more of your poems! They will be an inspiration and a delight.

  • April 29, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    Please publish more of your poems. They’ll be an inspiration and a delight.

  • April 30, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    God, it IS hard not to be earnest. Whenever I’m writing anything, really! I try to be a bit jokey on the blog, but I’m afraid I must be natively earnest, and it shows through. :p

  • May 1, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    I really want to read, or at least hear more about, She Wears Pearls to the Supermarket. I love this for a project, it seems much more sensible than giving up chocolate (which is neither creative or contemplative).

  • May 8, 2017 at 11:56 am

    Well done, that’s a massive achievement! I write probably one poem per decade, so I salute you!

  • May 23, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    This is such a cool idea! Thanks for sharing. I only wish I saw this for Lent.


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