What I Learned from National Poetry Month

In my Small Reads newsletter recently, I talked about reflecting on our writing:

Wouldn’t it be cool, after a big writing project is totally finished, if we asked students to reflect on their writing and think about those questions above? How fun would it be to ask them to give an “acceptance speech” about their story or graphic novel or nonfiction writing? They might get some interesting “aha” moments about their own writing process and choices. I definitely have.

My schedule is so overpacked–even more so the past several months since I started a part-time job and have been dealing with a chronic health issue. So I’m often guilty of jumping from one project, one manuscript, one assignment to another. I don’t take enough time myself to reflect on my own writing process.

So, here I go. National Poetry Month is finished. What did I learn? Here are a few rambling thoughts:

  1. I like writing about nature. No surprise there. But I just feel more inspired when using flowers, rocks, trees, etc., as my starting point. But I still like some of my poems that started from manmade objects, so I need to push myself to not always fall back on nature.
  2. It’s hard for me to NOT think in metaphor. When I look at something, I immediately move to metaphor, thinking about what else it reminds me of. It’s actually very difficult for me to focus on an object AS the object.
  3. I like my poems that have a tiny surreal aspect to them. I don’t do this very much, but this is a technique I’d like to use more. “Tiny Spoon” was the one that stuck out in this regard.
  4. When I can mix metaphor, science, and a topic/theme together in a way that uses the science very subtly…I like that. I tend to be very overt with science in my poems. I’d like to soften that a bit, like I was able to do in “A Water Drop.” “Agate Sliver” worked okay in this aspect too.
  5. I wrote 20 poems last month. Some of them I like, and some I feel very meh about. And that’s okay. By writing MORE poems, I’m MORE like to write some that I like.
  6. Some poems were easier to write, and some I struggled with. And that’s okay too.
  7. Holding still and staring at something for a minute is hard!

And you can see all my magnipoems here.

[My Classroom Connections posts share a way to connect one of my books or poems to a classroom topic–often something timely that you might be covering in the next month or so. Please share this post if you have educator friends who might be interested–thanks!]

6 Responses

  1. I admire you for sticking with it, even through the meh poems and the tired-of-doing-this syndrome. Reflecting on your take-aways is a good way to process. I often skip this step myself and with my students.

    1. Me too, Margaret. Just a result of our long to-do lists, curricula, etc., I suppose!

  2. I’m such a huge fan of reflection in my writing. It makes such a difference for me. I need to think about things I learned from my poetry project. I haven’t written anything down–it’s been mostly in my head, but I want to officially write some reflections down. I especially love #1 and #5–I wrote 30 drafts. Most of them are terrible, but they are starts and enough for me to revise and really have some promise. 🙂

    1. I know! You model reflection constantly, Marcie, both on your writing and also on your various readings, outings, goals, etc. It’s so inspiring. Impressed by 30 drafts. I struggled to get 20. I’m calling it a win!

  3. This year’s poetry month was not as prolific as others in our house, but we still had fun with magnifying glasses, enjoyed new-to-us anthologies and my one daughter who has always had a knee-jerk fatalist attitude toward poetry wrote something she is really proud of. One day we ended up playing with my cell phone instead and the super close up selfies gave us:
    My Nose
    Freckled cowcatcher
    Front of my face.

    And an early morning discovery gave us this unfortunate magnipoem:

    Skittish mouse grey
    Snaking segments
    Tendrils touching
    My silver-fish-ware

    Thank you for inspiring us once again!

    1. Juliana, thank you for this wonderful comment! So happy your daughter is proud of her writing. Out of 20 magnipoems, I’m only proud of the end result on a few of them. But like all writing, the more you try, the more often you’ll find bits of success! I absolutely adore the nose as a “Freckled cowcatcher.” That phrase is going to stick with me. <3 And your mouse poem (eeeuw), with all its fabulous alliteration and vibrant words–excellent. Woohoo! Congrats on playing with poetry!

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