It’s April, so happy National Poetry Month. I’m honoured to be featured as Open Book’s Writers in Residence this month, and I’m looking forward to blogging about writing and books and publishing and readings. Since it’s National Poetry Month, most of my posts will be about poetry in some way, focusing on process-related elements, like using prompts and exercises, as well as some unsolicited advice on doing readings, titling poems, ordering a poetry manuscript, and mining dreams and nightmares for material. I’m hoping that my series as Open Book’s latest monthly Writer in Residence will encourage you to write new poems, or if you’re already writing new poems, it’ll help you develop your works-in-progress.
As I mentioned in my recent At the Desk essay here at Open Book, I sometimes employed poetry prompts and exercises to get started on drafts that later became Real Actual Poems and then ended up in my Real Actual New Book. Full disclosure: when I was younger and therefore arrogant (more arrogant, anyway), I eschewed such techniques as somehow less authentic, less real, and instead, I don’t know, I guess I waited around for the fickle goddess of magical inspiration to appear and smack me upside the head with her shiny purple Ariel wand full of genius poetry glitter. Or something. Anyway, I came late to poetry exercises. For my fortieth birthday, I spent the day in Stuart Ross’ Poetry Boot Camp, which is an amazing day of nothing BUT generative poetry exercises and collaborations and creativity and good times. I wrote a bunch of new stuff, learned some new techniques, and I was hooked on poetry prompts.
Next I bought a bunch of books about poetry workshops and exercises. Most of them are geared toward teaching, which I don’t often do, but many of the prompts and projects are applicable to writing on your own. Some of them became regular fixtures in my own practise. Others were too cheesey or simply didn’t work for me, but some of them I found interesting and productive. You can see a sampling of some of the texts I’ve used in the photos.
I’m also in the
process of interviewing other poets about what kinds of poetry prompts they use, whether in their own work or for teaching, and their relationships with these kinds of generative tools. I may even try out some of their suggestions and post my results – maybe!
Other future posts include Dreams I Had that Didn’t Make It Into My Poems, Titles (Plagiarize Yourself or Just Make it a Self-Portrait), Ordering a Manuscript, and Advice on Public Readings.
Happy National Poetry Month. Go read a poem. Better yet, write one.
Jennifer LoveGrove's latest book is the poetry collection Beautiful Children with Pet Foxes (BookThug). She is also the author of the Giller Prize–longlisted novel Watch How We Walk, as well as two other poetry collections: I Should Never Have Fired the Sentinel and The Dagger Between Her Teeth. In 2010, LoveGrove was nominated for the K.M. Hunter Artist Award for Literature and in 2015, her poetry was shortlisted for the Lit POP Awards. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications across North America. She divides her time between downtown Toronto and rural Ontario.