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.
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:
- The Man Who Loved Virginia Woolf Too Much
- A Rope at Chawton
- February Sonnet
- The Best Laid Plans
- Mirror in the Attic: a Sestina
- Chickens and Hens
- On the Surprise of the Inevitable
- John and Joan Were Off to the Coast
- Needs Must
- The Three Little Pigs
- 8pm Phone Call
- Goldilocks: Philosopher
- As Brittle as She Was
- World Poetry Day
- No Regrets
- Westminster Bridge, March 2017
- My Personal Blitz
- She Wears Pearls to the Supermarket
- Innocence From Experience
- At a Wedding
- Burn all the Candles
- Still Life
- Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
- In Translation
- Coffee Shop Limbo
- On Being a Bad Poet Because of the Theatre
- Piano Lessons
- Coffee Shop Limbo (2)
- Certain Women
- Une erreur poétique
- Good Things (A Villanelle)
- In Translation in Translation
- Do Poets Ever Smile?
- Railway Station Triolet
- Good Friday
- Split Ends