Tag Archives: PAD Challenge

Stretching Out: Trying Different Forms and Genres

What makes April PAD/NaPoWriMo challenging is writing a new poem every day. Making time for writing on a regular basis is already difficult for most people! And sometimes we end up cycling around the same themes, the same phrases, the same types of poems. Poetry that’s new and different, every day – that’s the tough part.

I personally love that part of the challenge – precisely because it forces me to face my clichés, and break away from them. I step outside of my usual forms and themes, challenge myself with new ones, try writing with new voices, fresh styles.

If I have enough time on my hands (perhaps a couple of hours) I test myself by writing in form. I wrote about this during last year’s challenge, as well, and one of my milestones then was how I’d managed to write my first-ever sonnet (or two). And I’ve written quite a few Haiku by now, but this April I stuck as closely as I could to the original form — in fact, I wrote two of them in Japanese!

Writing in form, traditional or modern, helps hone our craft. Plus, subject matter and theme can be further supported by writing in specific forms or meter that suit them. It’s not just in the message, after all, it’s in how it’s delivered. A poem is obviously more than the meaning it makes: it’s in how it makes meaning.

Image

I found the image here; do give the article a read!

 

If you choose your form and meter wisely enough, they could add new layers to your poem! Also, you could use forms just as effectively to break stereotypes, or even satirize common trends like this lovely sonnet by Shakespeare does (Sonnet 130):

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
   And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
   As any she belied with false compare.

 

If your form works with your poem’s theme, the overall effect is that much greater. That’s why we hear so many poets warning us not to default to free verse. Personally, I don’t find anything wrong with free verse – as long as it suits the context. What if the poem is all about non-conformity, breaking out of confinement – that sort of thing? Perhaps free verse makes sense. Even better, you could show the gradual development in the poet pesona by working within form/meter and having a break in form/meter later on in the poem.

In fiction-writing, too, we choose between genres and forms. You shouldn’t default to a form (novel, short story, novella) or genre because it’s a trend, but because it makes sense for your story. Make sure you know all the whys and wherefores.

The last time I stepped out of my genre for fiction-writing, I found I was pleasantly surprised by the result! I had a novella unlike any I’d ever written before, fresh and even a little shocking — and it never would’ve come to be if I hadn’t let myself try something new.

Writing Prompt: (Try) Something New

If you haven’t been at it already, try composing in different poetic forms. Perhaps you’ll find one you really love! Mr. Brewer’s list over at Poetic Asides is a very convenient and comprehensive resource: I hope you’ll find a form in there you haven’t written in already!

You could also try new styles, if not forms. Perhaps a different voice, like you would in a dramatic monologue. Explore characters and landscapes you haven’t before.

Before I sign off, I offer this as a writing prompt for anyone who’s looking for one: (try) something new.

  • The poem/piece itself could be your exercise at trying something new.
  • It could be about how you’re trying something new.
  • It could be about something new in your life, or maybe something new in someone else’s life
  • It could perhaps be something new and alien to the ecosystem (like plastic!)

Take the prompt where you will in your thoughts!

Happy Writing!

Have a great day folks, and keep writing! Just ten more days of fierce poeming to go, stay strong 🙂

Friday Reflections: Windows

Hello, folks! 🙂 I hope everyone’s been keeping up with their challenges — we’re more than half-way to the finish line! (Don’t let it fool you though — there’s no real finish line, only milestones along the journey!)

Today’s Reflections topic is Windows.

“Strange things blow in through my window on the wings of the night wind and I don’t worry about my destiny.”
-Carl Sandburg

Windows

I don’t want to put any more thoughts into your head before you brainstorm — you might have more creative images popping out of there than what I’ve got! Just take five, ten minutes to jot down your thoughts. Do you imagine a scene? Note down what you see; then consider why that image might have come to you. What does it have to do with “windows”? What significance does “windows” have?

It’s entirely up to you whether you want to write about Microsoft’s famous Operating System, or these wonderful glass-fitted openings in rooms:

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

You could even read through this Wikipedia article and take a look at the many different kinds of windows!

The word “window” could also refer to those rectangle cut-outs with transparent sheets, in envelopes, through which we can read the address.

You could observe what’s outside your window right now (or perhaps what’s outside the window of your favorite Cafe), and write about the kinds of people, happenings, and encounters you see.

Just take your pick and write away!

(It might help to know that the word “window” comes from Old Norse, combining the words “wind” and “eye“.)

There are so many interesting phrases we use today incorporating this word:

  • out the window
  • window-shopping
  • window to…(e.g., imagination)
  • a window on (something)
  • window, as an interval, i.e., time window/window of four minutes…

The phrase ‘window-shopping’ is always fun to work with! Though this quote always comes to my mind:

“I went window shopping today! I bought four windows.”
-Tommy Cooper

Apart from phrases like these, windows often take on symbolic or metaphoric meaning in a lot of writing. Windows are interesting in how they are often transparent, and could let in wind and light, but are still barriers.

“Many a doctrine is like a window pane. We see truth through it but it divides us from truth.”
-Khalil Gibran

A character confined to the space of one room, the window that he/she gazes out of takes on a very different meaning. We have characters smashing open windows to enter/exit buildings – it could be for a robbery or even after a robbery, as the last resort/getaway strategy; it could be to run away from one’s wedding; it could be to get inside one’s own home — perhaps he/she had locked him/herself out!

One may open a window to let in a breeze – the breeze may carry in with it fluttering leaves, inspiration, or some scent that invokes memories for the poet persona. Glass windows also let in lightwhich may be metaphorically significant. Does the character/poet persona open or close the window? What about curtains or blinds?

You could choose to be extremely concrete, or completely abstract; you could choose to dance somewhere between the two, or back and forth.

Here’s an excerpt from the poem I’ll Open the Window by Anna Swir (you can read the entire poem here), to give you an idea:

I will open the window
and the large, frosty air will enter,
healthy as tragedy.
Human thoughts will enter
and human concerns,
misfortune of others, saintliness of others.
They will converse softly and sternly.

Another poem: From a Window by Charlotte Mew.

Many have written about what they see outside their window, or why they’re looking out the window (instead of just going out the door?). Perhaps the very idea of looking outward is a positive one, signifying that someone, who has been withdrawn for a long time, is finally opening up, moving out, moving on… Perhaps they yearn for freedom — to go out, to experience the world, or be with nature.

While we’re on the topic of “windows”, I’d also like to share this lovely, very touching video (and the music):

 

In the spirit of National Poetry Month…

I’ll share one more poem today; it may not have windows (but I think poems themselves are windows, in a way), but it’s one of my personal favorites.

Mother to Son by Langston Hughes

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

Happy Writing!

I hope this helped you get your creative juices flowing, if they weren’t already. Good luck with your NaPoWriMo/Poem-a-Day challenges! Have a happy weekend,  folks — I hope it’s full of writing/poeming 🙂

Friday Reflections & more!

Hello, folks! I wasn’t able to make posts thanks to a few exams that occupied my first two weeks of April — but here I am, to join in on the National Poetry Month fun! I’m ten days late into the game, but better late than never, eh? I have been keeping up with the Poem-a-Day Challenge. In fact, most days I’ve been able to write more than the required one 😉

For anyone who’s new to the whole event: April is National Poetry Month! (I’d peg it as international now, actually.)

There’s generally a lot of poetry awareness around this time, so if you can help it, try to read a new poem every day. Better yet, spread the word! Get others to read more poetry, share your favorites, spread the joy!

For those who enjoy writing poetry, April’s even more fun! April for poets is as November is for novelists: it brings with it the NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) challenge: writing one poem a day, every day, for the whole month! Anyone who’s participating can find a great many blogs full of prompts and poems this month. Be sure to check out NaPoWriMo.net, where they offer many suggestions and a prompt every day.

Mr. Brewer over at Poetic Asides also conducts a Poem-a-Day Challenge during April, so do participate if you’re interested! This year, it’s even more interesting with an anthology being released including submissions for the challenge, as well as with various judges coming in for the event.

NaPoWriMo 2014

A Poem for the Day

I’ll kick off with a poem, to spread the Poetry Month joy 🙂

The Poets light but Lamps— by Emily Dickinson

The Poets light but Lamps —
Themselves — go out —
The Wicks they stimulate
If vital Light

Inhere as do the Suns —
Each Age a Lens
Disseminating their
Circumference —

Friday Reflections: homebound

Take a few moments to brainstorm on the topic: “homebound”. Jot down all of the ideas that come to you, make a note of the kinds of things you see in the images and scenes that the word brings to your mind. Take a moment to think about who is in that scene and why things are happening that way in the scene.

The prompt came from the poem I wrote yesterday, of the same title. There are two definitions for this particular word, and in my poem I took advantage of that duality of meaning:

home·bound
adjective
1. Going homeward: bound for home
2. Confined to the home

(Definitions courtesy Merriam-Webster)

You can question what we mean by the word “home” – how does your character or poet persona (or self, if you’re the one speaking) think of “home”? You can also play on what we mean by “bound”. It can be seen in a negative light, that is, being bound or confined to a thing. In which case, is there a sense of wanting to break away from there?

Put together, the words interestingly have this definition: “going homeward“. Does it recall the phrase, “home is where the heart is”?

Does your character/poet persona happen to not have a definition for “home” because of unique circumstances? Do they perhaps form one by the end of your piece?

Home could be the earth. Home could mean a tent or cabin at camp, a single-bedroom apartment, a two-storey house, a mansion – anything. It could even be a hovel (like Yoda’s, on Dagobah!).

Yoda's Hovel

Home also happens to be a very common button on websites, directing people to the homepage! Just for a little twist, in case you feel like writing something about computers or the internet!

Hope that gave you some food for thought!

Happy Writing!

For those of you taking on the challenge, we’re already a third way through! Stay strong, keep poeming, and most importantly, have fun 🙂

Even if you’re not attempting the PAD Challenge/NaPoWriMo, you’re welcome to start even ten days late, or just spread some love for poetry this month! I’ll be updating more frequently (now that I’m free from my exams!) with more poems and prompts.

Happy writing, folks!

Friday Reflections & Some Prompts for your November Challenge

Hullo, folks! How are your November challenges going? You’re already half-way there! That’s 50%! You’ve done half of it – so you know you’ve got it in you to do another half…don’t stop now! 🙂

I have to say, I’m doing pretty well so far on my Poem-a-Day Challenge. For the past few days, I’ve been cranking out two poems a day; yesterday I was so inspired, I wrote three! I love it when I’m into a challenge full-swing.

If there’s one thing I could never get enough of during a poetry-writing challenge, I’d vote for prompts. So in addition to today’s Reflections topic, I’ll be listing a handful of prompts towards the end of this post based on the poems I’ve written so far in this month, just in case someone needs the words/sparks to set off their creativity.

Friday Reflections: Peace

I’m sure this dove famously carrying the olive branch would’ve put an idea into your head, but apart from this image, what else do you think of when you read/hear the word “peace“?

Maybe you could come up with a piece explaining why a dove and why an olive branch? It doesn’t have to be logically reasoned – just be creative!

Do you immediately think Warpeace talks, treaties, the UN, and the like? In that context, do you believe that “peace” is possible? What exactly would “peace” be – how would you define it? Is it some kind of utopian ideal?

Or does peace mean something closer to home for you? The chaos/peace binary pops out to me every time I think of the word “peace”. It leads me to: finding peace of mind (which recalls that hilarious scene at the beginning of Kung Fu Panda 2 with Master Shifu’s “inner peace“). Peace has different connotations when it comes to martial arts or yoga, as it does with religion (as in phrases such as “peace be with you” or “peace be upon you“).

Also, I’m always envious of people who can write in any kind of atmosphere, because I always need a relatively peaceful surrounding to be able to produce anything worth reading!

There is always, of course, the “peace out” v-sign slang, for which I see great potential in a poem or short story (perhaps as a symbol or refrain), maybe even a novel for characterization.

Go ahead and brainstorm for more ideas and maybe you’ll discover a poem or story along the way! 😉

Prompts for your November Challenge

Here are some prompts based on what I’ve written in this month so far:

Hope that gives you something to write about, if you were looking! Good luck for the rest of the November challenges, folks! And always, always: happy writing 🙂

The November Challenges & Friday Reflections

Happy November, folks!

For the next thirty days, there will be millions of writers across the globe drilling away at their keyboards (or filling up several notebooks, if they’re into longhand)! If you listen closely enough, you might be able to hear the clickety-clack of typing already.

Yes, November is a very active month for the writing community. Because we’ve got several challenges going on.

November is most popularly known as, of course, National Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to:

Write a novel, approximately 50, 000 words in length, within the thirty days of November.

It’s best to keep in mind that NaNoWriMo is just a way to get the words on the page. (It has its shortcomings.) The completed work still needs revision, critiquing, editing – there’s a lot that goes behind a well-written novel. We have to flesh out settings and characters, make the most out of every scene… There’s a reason some writers take several years to get just one done.

A lot of people plan/outline their novels in advance and do the writing part during November. Others prefer seat-of-the-pants writing.

Some do it to bust writer’s block. Your NaNoWriMo novel may be terribly written, but at least you’ve written something. You can go by what Katherine Mansfield said,

Better to write twaddle, anything, than nothing at all.

Some people take up the challenge purely on whim – just to see if they can do it.

And that’s precisely the spirit with which I took up the November Poem-a-Day Chapbook Challenge for the first time a couple of years ago! Mr. Brewer hosts it over at Poetic Asides and it’s a lot like the April Poem-a-Day challenge, only that this time since it’s a Chapbook challenge, participants write their November poems around a specific theme.

When I first attempted the November PAD Challenge, I didn’t have any theme in mind, and even now Mr. Brewer does mention that it’s not an absolute necessity. But two successful November PADs later, I feel like I’m ready to take up that bit of the challenge as well!

NaBloPoMo is another interesting November event – the National Blog Posting Month Challenge. Participants all over the blogosphere have probably posted about this by now. The challenge is to make at least one blog post every day, during November.

The crux of the three challenges is the same.

Write a lot.

Write every day.

Two out of three challenges (the November PAD and NaBloWriMo) demand that you write every day. And most NaNoWriMo participants try to write every day because 50, 000 words more doable with daily writing.

As a result, you’ll challenge yourself.

The first few pages or poems or posts may be easy enough, but after a while you’ll hit a block. That’s the challenge. To keep at it is the promise you’ve made to yourself when you make the commitment.

And finally, by the end of it all, you get stuff done.

By the end of the month, you have a decent output to work with:

    • poems around a specific theme to polish, edit, compile into a chapbook and perhaps publish
    • thirty blog posts that you wrote and published online within a month
    • fifty thousand words/a novel that you managed to get written, ready for editing

Writers just have to take their pick – go with whichever challenge you think suits your genre/style best and give it a shot! Maybe you’ll try two at a time, or all three, if you want to.

Of course, you may not want to take up any of the challenges. You may not have the time. Or you have other priorities. But you could always surf the net — writing blogs effuse inspiration in November. Come up with a different challenge for yourself: write (at least a little) every daycomplete a short story or a collection of some kind; give yourself a challenge, try new genres and styles. Whatever you’d like.

Be a part of the fervor.

Friday Reflections: News

Before you leave, here’s a prompt (based on my first poem of the month) to get you going in case you haven’t written your first November challenge page/post/poem:

news.

You could write about what you heard on the the 6 o’clock news, you could write about sports news, the news paper; maybe someone in your family told you some good/bad news today. Maybe your best friend’s adoption request got approved. Maybe your cousin landed his dream job. Maybe your daughter made the basketball team. Maybe you could write about how or why you would be in a news headline – maybe in a supplementary paper, maybe for an interview. You could write about a journalist or columnist.

You could write about a character who collects snippets of news. That could transform into fiction — maybe he or she collects snippets about specific incidents or crimes, maybe he or she was involved in them somehow. Or trying to solve them!

Maybe hearing about NaNoWriMo or NaBloPoMo or the November PAD Challenge was news to you!

Have you ever picked up the morning paper and frowned at the headlines – not because it’s devastating or depressing, but because it’s irrelevant? Sometimes newspapers print advertisements on the front page or report something relatively unimportant (perhaps about celebrities, where maybe news about the latest political or economic developments are due?). And then there’s always the debate about whether newspapers report the truth as is or sensationalize it.

My first November PAD Challenge poem considers an outsider’s perspective on a news report (such as myself) in contrast with the perspective of someone who had been involved in the very incident reported.

Go ahead, get started with your November writing. All the best to writers everywhere! And most importantly: happy writing!

Friday Reflections: Parting

How’s the poeming coming along, folks? I hope everyone’s had a productive week! I’ve been keeping up, though yesterday’s was a close call (I only got around to it late at night, at around 11:30 p.m.!). Days like those really make the challenge a challenge! In contrast, I churned out today’s poem right in the morning, fresh out of bed 🙂

Here’s your weekly Reflections post to give you some more to think about and some more to write about!

Today’s prompt: Parting

“Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.”
-Emily Dickinson

We’ve all experienced some form of parting or the other; it may not necessarily be the same as the one Ms. Dickinson has spoken about – it may be something not so final as death, it may be just a “see you tomorrow” casually muttered to a friend at the end of a school day. It could be death, also.

An Ending

For some reason, though, the word “parting”, or even “goodbye” or “farewell” seems to ring the bell of tragedy, for me. Maybe it’s my fault, maybe I shouldn’t have committed Ms. Dickinson’s poem to memory! I’d once took the very phrase, “see you tomorrow”, and scribbled a tragedy out of it. One could guess, the characters didn’t get to see each other “tomorrow”. Or, well, maybe they did, in afterlife?

Another phrase from a poem I am reminded of is from Thomas Gray’s famous Elegy: “…knell of parting day”.

You could consider “parting” as an ending, as I did for that short story. In my case, it was an abrupt, unexpected ending. You could talk about “goodbye” in general – consider the various circumstances in which people say these phrases that are used in place of it:

Image

I see potential for a list-poem 🙂

Try digging into the etymologies for these commonplace phrases and situations may play through in your mind – entire narratives, perhaps – of people going different ways forever, people expressing the hope of meeting again, people saying “hasta la vista, baby,” in the most nonchalant way possible… Or maybe they’re completely serious, and with knitted eyebrows and longing eyes, say, “Until we meet again…”

“Sayonara” – if it is to be that way…

Every language seems to have various ways of saying “goodbye”, and the history behind each is very interesting (I find it reveals a lot about the culture and the people). Goodbye, for instance, is a contraction of God be with ye.

“Sayonara”, of Japanese origin (now used rather commonly in English the way Hasta la vista is), is one of my personal favorites. It translates directly to, “If it is to be that way…” and comes from more complete phrases, such as one translating to, “If it is to be that way, I will be leaving.” I’ve always felt like this hints at a reluctance to leave. One does not really wish to leave, does not really wish to part, but it must be so, and therefore, one leaves. (Which reminds me of this lovely piece of music.)

I also love some of these French phrases: au revoir (which literally translates to to the seeing again), à demain (until tomorrow) and à bientôt (see you soon).

Farewell and godspeed, on the other hand, seem to suggest a journey of some sort, perhaps one that is long and arduous, or a mission that someone must rush to complete.

Cheerio, then! (here’s a music-prompt)

I hope that gives you something to write about tonight 🙂

I’ll add one more music-prompt here before I sign off:

This Étude, by the great poet of the piano, Frédéric Chopin, was one which the composer himself believed to be his most beautiful. Though he never gave it any title, it has also been identified as “Tristesse” (Sadness), “Farewell”/”L’Adieu” and in Japan as “Wakare no Kyoku” (Song of Parting).

Dig deep, my fellow writers. All the best for the rest of NaPoWriMo, my fellow poets – we’re nearly at the half-way point! Happy writing!

Day Two (two prompts for you!)

I’m back for Day Two of the Poem-A-Day Challenge, here to offer a couple of prompts and another  link (which I can’t believe I’d left out in the previous post!): the NaPoWriMo page!

Image

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which takes place in November, seems to be more popular than NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month, designed after the former), but Poetry’s getting more popular these days 🙂

I have two prompts to offer today 🙂 It’s day two, after all, and I happened to write two poems last night, on the first day of the challenge.

Prompt Number One

The first prompt is a quick one, and a little cliché, but it always amazes me how I seem to have something new to write about it every time:

Love.

Yes, cliché. But perhaps it’s because it’s such a prompt (suggested by one of my friends), I am able to stretch out and write differently with each attempt. I am able to look at it from new angles. See new stories under this word. I always believed that we love each loved one in a special, unprecedented way. Especially since everyone seems to have their own take on the word itself.

So take this prompt and write something fresh; look at love in a way you’ve never seen it before. A simple example: it could be unrequited love, for someone who has always gotten enough love. It could be the other way around, too!

Today’s prompt

I finally got around to jogging this morning! And a lot of things run through my mind when I jog. And that’s how I happened about today’s prompt 🙂

I was thinking about my posture as I was jogging and I realized I kept staring dead ahead of myself. And that made me remember this phrase (in Japanese/Romaji given below):

Mae o muite

I’d roughly translate that to “look forward“/”face forward“/”look to the future“.

This phrase made me recollect these lines from a Japanese song, in turn (in Romaji, again):

Mae wo muitereba
Mata aemasu ka?

(Song: Passion by Utada Hikaru)

A rough translation of this would be: “If I look to the future, would we meet again?

So that shall be today’s prompt 🙂 Looking forward!

I’ve given a couple examples through mention of the prompt’s origin. You could also consider a “look forward when driving” kind of perspective!

Celebrating National Poetry Month, I’ll just add a link to a favorite classic here, in connection with this prompt 🙂 This one’s quite a direct poem, but I still love it. Particularly the “footprints in the sands of time” line!

Well, that’s all for today, folks. Happy Writing!