I think the mission of poetry is to create among people the possibility of wonder, admiration, enthusiasm, mystery — the sense that life is marvelous. When you say life is marvelous you are saying a banality. But to make life a marvel — that is the role of poetry. – Octavio Paz
Welcome to the Writing Center’s celebration of National Poetry Month! Poetry is one way that writers make the individual more universal, and that’s something worth celebrating. This site contains many ways to celebrate, such as poems and reading guides, 30 prompts for the 30 days of April, ways to share your poetry, and more. Each week, we will feature a particular poetic form, poet, and a writing prompt for each week. We hope that all writers and readers will find something that piques their poetic interests!
Form Focus: Haiku –short and sweet like the week!
A Japanese form of poetry dating back to the 13th century, Haikus are syllabic-based unrhymed three-line poems typically characterized by vivid imagery; the strict syllables form–5 syllables for line one, 7 syllables for line 2, and 5 syllables for line 3– is usually broken, but the focus on capturing the essence of a brief moment is preserved. Haikus are short, sweet, and expressive.
Read some examples here.
Featured Poems & Reading Guides
“The Old Pond” by Matsuo Bashō
A frog jumps in
Translated by Robert Hass
This poem follows the 5/7/5 syllabic structure of haikus; it focuses on the moment a frog jumps into an ancient pond and the sound the water makes as the frog meets it. It develops not only an image for the reader but also a vivid sound. The poem could be a metaphor for a new experience.
“In A Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound
The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
Petals on a wet, black bough.
Often considered the first haiku poem written in English, this haiku does not follow the formal 5/7/5 syllabic structure, but it does focus on a brief moment in time waiting for the metro train in Paris. Haikus were once the opening sequence of much longer poems called Renga, and this poem is made up of the remaining two lines of a much longer poem by Pound about waiting for the metro.
Form Focus: Blackout/ Erasure Poetry
Blackout poems are created using the pages of old books, magazines, or newspaper articles. Blackout poets isolate and then string together single words or short phrases from an existing text to create something new–poems that range from nonsensical to ethereal. The point is they’re fun. While some existing texts might work better than others, blackout poets operate with the belief that a poem lurks in every page. The trick is to find it.
Read more about the history of Blackout Poetry here.
Read some examples here.
Featured Poem & Reading Guide
In this poem, Kapri takes a mutual non-disparagement agreement and revises it into a response to the document. Kapri bends the form by writing over the blacked out portions to make explicit what’s implied in the document. Here she takes a document that is meant to be authoritarian and bends it to her will, creating something that speaks back to both the institution and the agreement as a genre.
Submit your own erasure poetry for possible publication in Edge Effects.
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