April was National Poetry Month, a nice designation but nothing near the impact of a national holiday. Emily Dickinson’s birthday maybe? Or Walt Whitman’s?
Still, poets get excited about it in sort of busman’s holiday way. Let’s write more poems this month, they say. Let’s write a poem every day. A National Poetry Month website encourages this workaholic tendency, offering clever and original prompts on each of the month’s 30 days. In fact, any number of other websites do a similar thing.
Prompts are a new discovery for me, perhaps an invention of the instant communication possibilities of the digital age. If someone says, ‘why don’t we all write a poem about trees, or birds, or women whose image deserves to be on the twenty dollar bill?’ you could say that was a prompt. But things are considerably more elaborate in the industry these days.
For example, here’s a prompt from the National Poetry Month website: [http://www.napowrimo.net/:“I challenge you to find, either on your shelves or online, a specialized dictionary. This could be, for example, a dictionary of nautical terms, or woodworking terms, or geology terms. Anything, really, so long as it’s not a standard dictionary! Now write a poem that incorporates at least ten words from your specialized source.”
I found a dictionary of geological terms that attracted me because on the first page appeared “alluvial fan.” I loved the double meaning possibility there. Here’s the resulting poem, with notes below to explain the unfamiliar terms.
School of Hard Rocks
The Alluvian Fan is rooting for mud
While the Spirit of New Mexico prays for dry weather to save his handsome Butte
A Density Current pores through the country with an angry thump:
many votes for Donald Trump.
An increased dip in a dipping trend says Monocline is now your friend,
while tumbling on Scree in a bald Reverse Fault, a stumbling Roughneck calls a halt.
Put down your cup of early joe and help me wind yon Pahoehoe
It coils around the Tourmalines that color grew in deeper mines
And persevered through many fights
with blind, albino Troglobites
The Caldera yawns at Yellowstone
While for its loss a Cation moans
In deeper days in heavy dirt
A crystal nodule strives for Chert
Attorneys for the Deeps in opposition
Await a geological Deposition
To rule at last, without dispute
That Fossil Fuels aren’t worth a Hoot
For an explanation of all the geological terms used in my poem, and more example of prompts for poems from National Poetry Month website, see this link to my blog Prosegarden: http://prosegarden.blogspot.com/2016/05/delving-into-poetry-month-thirty-days.html