To NaPoWriMo or Not To NaPoWriMo? — That is the Question.

Like most writers I know, I have an abundance of books. Some would say too many, but we all know there’s no such thing. And now, just as I did when Vincent first became mobile, I spend altogether too much time rescuing my books from Aidan. As I skid the wood floors from room to room in pursuit of the toddling mischief-maker, Lance can be heard grumbling sotto voce, “Do you have to have piles of books on every table in every room?” Well, yes. Obviously.

One side benefit of Aidan’s attempted book-savaging and my just-in-time salvaging, the only benefit that I can see, is that he discovers books I’d forgotten I had, that I haven’t read in a while that I may now read with a new eye. Case in point: Wild and Whirling Words: A Poetic Conversation, moderated by H.L. Hix.

Hix wondered, what would poets say about other poets’ poems if they were being honest? And how could he encourage that honesty and conversation across the different poetic camps? His imperfect but rewarding attempt is this: [from the back cover] “H.L. Hix invited thirty-three of America’s finest and most influential poets, representing diverse backgrounds and approaches, to engage in a conversation. Each volunteered an original poem, which Hix circulated anonymously among six of the other poets. The poems and responses progressed from poet to poet — unfolding, complicating, and sending up sparks of insight, of opinion, of disagreement.”

Participating poets include Carol Frost, Cate Marvin, Bin Ramke, Annie Finch, Paisley Rekdal, Michael Waters, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, A.E. Stallings…and more! It’s a really rich sampling, and bears multiple readings, preferably years apart: time enough to have forgotten the poets & poems, and to have deepened your own reading & poetry practice, so that you return to the poems and the responses with a fresh perspective.


To answer the question — am I going to NaPoWriMo this year? — is difficult for me. Completing last year’s challenge, actually writing 30 poems in 30 days, was so exhilarating! And a large part of the zest of it is being among the larger NaPoWriMo community, all of us plugging away at our poems & postings.

But part of the purpose of participating for me was reintegrating a regular poetry practice into my utterly changed & expanded life. Which I have been pretty successful doing: I’ve written more this past year than the previous five years combined.

So my focus this NaPoWriMo will be to continue as I’ve been, and making good notes of all those ingenious prompts on offer. If there’s anything I truly want to improve, it’s the time I spend reading and re-reading.  So many books!


Speaking of National Poetry Month: we’re packing in 2 events over at the Collected Poets Series to celebrate, so go on over, check it out, and come if you can!

Also, if you haven’t yet taken advantage, I’m participating in Kelli Russell Agodon‘s Poetry Giveaway for National Poetry Month. Leave a comment here to be entered in my giveaway — you could win any one of THREE items!

4 responses to “To NaPoWriMo or Not To NaPoWriMo? — That is the Question.”

  1. I used to believe that one could never have too many books, but now that I am moving said books, I am starting to wonder…:)

  2. Marie, I “met” you through the giveaway. Good for you for defining NaPoWriMo in a way that works for you. I’m a mom of 3 and struggle to fit writing into every day, but do pretty well fitting it into most days (although I am trying to do NaPoWriMo this year – so far I’m not too behind :)). Happy Poetry Month.

  3. Thanks, Molly — as I see it, whether it’s NaPoMo or NaPoWriMo, it’s all about celebrating poetry!

  4. I like your take on NaPoWriMo- it shows you that you CAN integrate your writing into your hectic daily existence. Congrats on your chapbook (I have recently ordered it) – my first chap is coming from Finishing Line in June –

    Would love to be included in your giveaway. Thanks!

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