I swear I didn’t know NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) was a thing until now, and if you’ve read my thoughts on NaNoWriMo (see sidebar for link) then you know how I feel about this. But somehow, I hate NaPoWriMo even more.
You may chalk my disdain up to older sibling syndrome (there’s a new baby in town trying to be as cute as I’ve been all this time) and sure, maybe that’s part of it. I generally despise anything having to do with mass participation that does not appear to have sprung from intrinsic motivation and original thought. I’m super judgmental, we all know that.
I’m not trying to discourage anybody’s spreading their poetry wings and freeing their spirit to frolic in the beauty of the written word *smirk*. But I will be stifling a lot of laughter and a hefty amount of grumbling during the month of April.
Because my God, what the world needs is more shitty poetry.
And we especially need more shitty poetry that conforms to predetermined themes and forms- daily prompts which relieve us from the bothersome task of coming up with something on our own.
“Write a persona poem from the viewpoint of the first thing you see when you look away from the computer screen.”
“Grab a blind person and write a sestina using the first six words they point to in the newspaper.”
I’m sorry, are we poets or are we vending machines? What the hell kind of poet prides themselves on “Hey, pick any random form and subject and I’ll make a poem out of it in 20 minutes or less or your money back.”
Based on my experience, no poem written in response to a prompt has ever had half the chops of something written for the sole purpose of writing in itself. If I used writing prompts for my 365 project I’d hang myself for being a big fat cheater and that’s that.
One of my favorite poems, by Charles Bukowski, which embodies my philosophy of poetry nicely, is quite simple:
If you got nothin’ to say, you got no spirit left, go find a writing prompt and do what it tells you. When you have something to say, forms and rules and guidelines and prompts be damned.
And here we are once again at the same conclusion- if you’re a baby poet and you need some anonymous program to help you think of something to write, by all means, knock yourself out. You’ll never be any good, and I guess that’s fine because you’re obviously just in it for funsies.
Just make sure you buy my damn book, ok?