In which I seriously failed at Poetry, but that’s okay

Oops. I meant to write a blog post about National Poetry Writing Month, or NaPoWriMo, approximately a million years ago. i.e. back in April, when it was actually going on.

Except…I was failing hardcore at NaPo, so the poetry took priority over blogging about the poetry. Not that I finished it anyway. 

And then I got violently sick with???bronchitis or some shit maybe??? I spent a week absent from my tutoring job – right when I most needed to be there – fell behind on my soul-sucking Grocery Store Drudgery work because I stayed home from there most of the week as well, and spewed various disgusting things from various bodily orifices. I actually went to the doctor, for once. That’s how bad it was.


I could blame the Poetry Failure on the Great Plague, but let’s face it, poetry didn’t need me to be bed-bound for a week to fall by the wayside. Poetry is how I got into writing, but fiction has taken over my life at this point.

I wrote poetry all the time in middle and high school, although admittedly most of it was terrible. Well, the high school stuff wasn’t terrible so much as angsty, because, you know, I was a lovelorn teenager.

But I also started writing what we shall generously call “novels” at that point. I’m pretty sure I could do up a graph of noveling vs poeting over time and it would show them increasing and decreasing (respectively) in direct correlation with each other.

(Okay, I’m just trying to sound mathy in preparation for math class in August. It’s my first math class in ten years, so this should be fun.)

Anyway, my goal for the month wasn’t even the full 30 poems/30 days. It was a lot smaller but also a lot more specific. I wanted to write four poems. That was it. Well, four poems I was reasonably pleased with. But also I wanted to work on some weak spots.

  • clarity
  • conciseness
  • figurative language, which really goes along with the other two for me

I wanted to write poems where the metaphors were limited to one or two and made sense and furthered the theme/message/story instead of just writing a bunch of stuff that sounded pretty. I wanted to write poems that got to the point instead of wandering all over the damn place. I wanted to write poems that really got at how I felt and expressed it in a way that would let other people understand it.

You know, ignoring the fact that I hardly let anyone read my poetry, because a) it’s really personal and b) because it’s really personal, I’m super extra insecure about it.

I wrote one poem that way. I wrote the first draft in five minutes at a restaurant, in an outpouring of emotion, and then agonized over getting it right in revisions for a week and a half. At which point the month was already three weeks gone, I was exhausted from my efforts, and I had zero ideas for any other poems.

Which I think is the problem. I can’t preconceive ideas for poetry. It’s not at all like writing fiction – I can’t do it remotely the same way, which is the main reason NaPoWriMo has never consumed me the way National Novel Writing Month does. It doesn’t feel good to scramble and write as much poetry as I can in a short amount of time. I can’t do quantity over quality when it comes to poetry.

I need to feel something so intensely that I vomit a rough draft onto the page. I can clean it up later, but I learned last month that the first draft has to be vomit or nothing will work.

I did eventually get an idea, but it was a dumpster fire. Plus, at that point I only had a day left to agonize over it. Not a week and a half like I apparently needed.

But still. I learned things about my poetry-writing process this April. I produced one poem that I’m reasonably happy with. It’s more concise than usual and sticks to a single metaphor that works with the emotions I wanted to convey.

And it even sounds nice.

So, in true Me fashion, National Poetry Writing Month was a catastrophic failure. But also not. Maybe I’ll actually workout my poetry muscles a couple times before next April

3 thoughts on “In which I seriously failed at Poetry, but that’s okay

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