NaPoWriMo2020 Day 14: Why poetry?

NaPoWriMo2020 Day 14: Why poetry?

Today’s optional prompt asks you, like Alice Notley, to think about your own inspirations and forebears (whether literary or otherwise). Specifically, I challenge you today to write a poem that deals with the poems, poets, and other people who inspired you to write poems. These could be poems/poets/people that you strive to be like, or even poems, poets, and people that you strive not to be like. There are as many ways to go with this prompt as there are ways to be inspired.

I borrowed the line ‘The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind,’ from Bob Dylan’s song by the same name.

Why poetry?

You ask me

Why not prose?

Why do the words tumble in verses

Why not in passages?

You want to know

‘The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind’

It’s unknown to me.

Why Shakespeare and Wordsworth

You ask me

Why not Dickens and Stevenson?

Why Shelly and Frost

Why not Wilde and Bronte’?

You want to know

‘The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind’

I would tell you if I knew

I write what I write, what feels right

things that I sight

the things that make me feel light

of blooming flowers, children’s laughter, birds in flight

the sun, the stars and the moon at night

About all that’s between black and white

I call it love, you call it poetry

Why? It’s unknown to me

I write the things that I dare tell nobody

not a soul, not even me

I scribble it in a diary

Pain, heartbreak, failure, fantasy

the words flow in torrents- anger,betrayal, envy

I shed the baggage I carry, my heart no longer feels heavy

I call it confession, you call it poetry-

Why? I would tell you if I knew.


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Our poetry resource for the day is “Dr. Williams’ Heiresses,” a chapbook published by Alice Notley in 1980. In it, she weaves strange and discursive creation-myth for American poetry, and her own work, as influenced by the work of the poet William Carlos Williams.

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