Why yes, that is a picture of a picture of Leonard Nimoy and Jimi Hendrix. And what does this have to do with writing? With poetry? I wrote a poem about it, naturally. That’s how I roll. But seriously, I had been wanting to do something with this picture/idea since I first saw it back in January at coffee shop in Tryon, NC. Nothing came to me until inspiration struck on day 29 of National Poetry Month when two prompts came together from poet Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo site and Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides site.
NaPoWriMo gave a prompt by Jim Simmerman called “Twenty Little Poetry Projects.” I love list/directions prompts, especially when they have instructions like this “2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous” and this “17. Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.” This prompt was pretty much irresistible. I came up with lines like this “If you start at my left big toe, you can unpeel my skin like the devil peels a hard-boiled egg.” Yup. For whatever reason, I was thinking about spirals, like the grooves on a record, and then jumped to the image of Robert DeNiro peeling an egg in one, long strip in Angel Heart. Louis Cyphre indeed. Brewer’s prompt was more of a concept – write a magical poem and a realism poem, or a magical realism poem. I think I got a decent draft including both.
This is the reason I love April. There are hundreds, thousands of poets at all stages of their craft participating in writing and stepping outside of themselves. When these poets post their drafts each day to sites like Brewer’s, to twitter with hashtags like #amwriting and #NaPoWriMo14, or to other social media sites, poetry becomes a shared community. Where else would I have been able to read the sestina “Tricked into a Pet” posted by cindikenn on day 13 at 8:46am with lines that really work like this “With three babies / born in three years and a furry bundle / of peeing wonder bound to be a dog, / lines often blurred between kid and pet”?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I don’t want to write in a vacuum. I don’t want my work to sit on a flashdrive in a drawer. No, I probably won’t be able to publish any of these poems because, to many, they have already been published. But wait! Thanks to NaPoWriMo’s day 28 “featured journal,” I found out about CSHS Quarterly. And they just published two of my NaPoWriMo poems.
Look, this post is not meant to be a yay me! It is meant to show that community is a good thing. We should share our work. We should critique each other, applaud each others’ successes, share journals we find that we enjoy. It’s fun, and it’s part of what being a good literary citizen is all about.
This is a shout out to Maureen Thorson, Robert Lee Brewer, and all you poets out there who attempted the poem-a-day challenge of this past April. Thanks for participating in the poetry community, and thanks for the inspiration. Write on!