Here it is, almost the end of April, and I have nearly missed writing about National Poetry Month.
National Poetry Month was started by the American Academy of Poets in 1996 “to remind the public that poets have an integral role to play in our culture and that poetry matters,” as we learn from the AAP website.
I know that Writers Forum has many poets in our membership. I also know that Writers Forum has many good writers who find themselves intimidated by poetry. I know, because until a short while ago, I was one of you.
Sure, I had dabbled in poetry in college. I tried my hand at free verse and sonnets. And once I didn’t have to write poetry for assignments anymore, I stopped writing it. Poetry was hard. I had a hard time reading it. I was much more comfortable writing in prose. I had been writing prose all of my life, and it worked just fine for me. Why change?
I’ll tell you why.
Writing poetry will make your prose stronger. I guarantee it.
Poetry took me by surprise. It ambushed me after a Writers Forum Read Around. I hadn’t even read any poetry. I had read a selection from my Backcountry Trails memoir. After the Read Around, a friend in Writers Forum approached me and asked me to join her poetry critique group. Just like that. I didn’t know what to say. She said that her poetry group had dwindled through attrition down to two people, and they really needed a third for it to remain a ‘group.’ I protested that I don’t even write poetry.
She said, “You are a writer. Writers write. Poetry is just another type of writing, and I am confident that your poetry is just fine.”
I thought about it for a minute. If for no other reason than to get to know these other writers better, I agreed to check out their group. I met them at a local restaurant the next week.
Did I mention that the other two people are language teachers and published authors? Do I need to tell you that I felt intimidated and way, way out of my league to be sharing poetry with them?
I also need to tell you that they did everything they could to make me feel at ease and to assure me that I am a writer, and poetry is one aspect of any writer’s craft. I had heard it said that writing poetry helps your word choice and concision in other writing.
After spending almost two years writing poetry, it turns out to be the single best thing I have done to improve my writing in a long time. Give it a shot!
Even after National Poetry Month ends, we will continue posting on this blog to help you build your poetry muscles. I will also be looking for poets interested in contributing articles about the craft of poetry.
Maybe we can make it a regular feature and call it Hitting the Poetry Gym. I am open to other suggestions.
If you are a poet and would like to contribute to the blog, or if you have other name suggestions for a ‘poetry workout’ feature, leave a comment, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Thanks for reading,
If you would like to contribute an original piece to Writers Forum for posting on the blog, please submit to email@example.com . Please note ‘Submission’ in the subject line. All submissions are considered, but shorter pieces of 500-1500 words are preferred. We will consider all original works–poetry, short fiction, essays, memoir. We would also love to run your short pieces on writing as well. Share your writing insights with us. Thanks!