It was a poet who said that April is the cruelest month. But it's a lot less cruel for me this year because it's also National Poetry Month, which I'm celebrating by committing myself to write a poem each day for the thirty days of April.
I was feeling creatively stuck, and this seemed a way to get unstuck. So I joined a group of poets organized by California-based poet Molly Fisk.The way the group is organized is this. Every day Molly gives us a prompt. We write a poem on that prompt, or some other topic of our own inspiration, We share the poem on the online group bulletin board, if we so choose, and comment on each others' poems, if the spirit moves us, following the only actual rule Molly prescribes: appreciation only, no critique.
This month of daily immersion in poetry has changed my life, not only giving me an intravenous infusion of creative joy every day, but also making me feel better about everything else in my challenging personal and professional existence. Whatever else goes wrong that day, I can say at the end of it: "Guess what? I wrote a POEM today."
I learned some things about myself as a writer that are worth pondering.
1) I love writing poetry. I love reading poetry. I want to keep poetry in my life forever.
2) It is wonderful, at least once in a while, to write something just for myself, with no other goal except the sheer joy of doing of it.
3) But it's also wonderful to share these joy-born objects with a few friends - NOT for critique, NOT so that I can grow in my craft, but just to bask in their generous appreciation. The poem John Masefield wrote what might be the truest sentence about the creative process ever written: "Great art does not proceed from great criticism, but from great encouragement."
I still want to write middle-grade novels, and I still want to publish what I write, and I still cherish brilliant, insightful critique that will help me achieve that goal.
But for this wondrously non-cruel month of April, I'm pouring my creative energies into writing poems just for me, which will never be published, and for which I'm seeking only delightful tidbits of praise. Hooray for poetry!