In reading the insightful discourse on online intimacies, I found myself thinking deeply about the importance of the online community for poetry. Mainly I was thinking about the odd and blossoming event that has happened every April for the past five years: National Poetry Writing Month. Now, we all know it’s National Poetry Month, but to some poet/bloggers, it is also the month where they challenge themselves to write one poem for each day of the month. And post their journey online. Founded by Maureen Thorson and inspired by National Novel Writing Month, the participants are now upwards of fifty and the fevered attempt to write everyday is celebrated, sometimes embarrassingly (as when I participated), in full view of the public eye.

Going against the need most writers’ have to hold their poems close to their chest until the poem is revised, revised, and revised again, this lovely movement allows seasoned writers and new writers to flex both their writing muscle and their humility. When I participated (this April presented too many time commitments), I found that although it was difficult and at times excruciating, I actually wrote many poems that I later revised and published. AND, I started to look forward to writing everyday, a habit that I still do, even if it’s just a line or a thought here and there. The other part of this project that made me so thrilled was that I started to look forward to reading everyone else’s daily poems with eagerness. Some wrote on one theme, some even tried to do two a day. And yes, these poems weren’t perfect. They needed the attention that only time and reflection can add to a poem, but they were honest and raw and wonderfully wild first drafts. Buzzing fits of poetic mania.
And it continues. More poets every year. If you go to Maureen’s blog Squash Blossom! she lists the participating poets in her blogroll. To quote Maureen, “I just sort of started doing it in 2003, while I was still in law school. I had read about a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) movement that was held in the prior November, and thought that, as long as April was National Poetry Month, I might as well start doing something similar.” Okay. Let’s stop there. Did she just say that she started writing a poem a day while in LAW SCHOOL?! Wow.
(Let's insert this here: I can barely write a poem when I get devastated by the news, or feel too busy with the bully business of life.)
So, today's shout out is to those brave enough to write a poem a day and stick out National Poetry Writing Month. There are many people participating and now that the drunken tizzy of weather has begun and it truly feels like spring, maybe I might try my hand at it too. (A bit late, but fully enthusiastic.) Tonight, I got home late from work, bought some ridiculous, have-no-shame daffodils, turned off the news, and now I am going to write a poem. Maybe you should too?

Originally Published: April 17th, 2008

Ada Limón is the author of Lucky Wreck (2006), This Big Fake World (2006), Sharks in the Rivers (2010), and Bright Dead Things (2015), a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Books Critics Circle Award. She earned an MFA from New York University, and is the recipient of...

  1. April 17, 2008

    hey ada,
    i love the new blossoms of napowrimo poems. loved the idea so much, that i am participating in National Blog Writing Month at my blog ( writing a blog post everyday because spring and all (tho it is so so excruciating).
    take care,

  2. April 17, 2008

    No doubt that careful revision of every poem one writes would result in a good-sized batch of high-quality poems, but one wonders if an equally efficient method would be to focus on quantity over quality, writing a poem in one go, revising along the way, but letting it stand without going through multiple drafts. One would end up with many bad poems, but the sheer number of good poems would make up for it. Just a thought.

  3. April 17, 2008
     Seth Abramson

    As someone else who wrote poetry while in law school, I'd like to give kudos to Maureen and the others who are writing daily this month. I wrote a poem a day my first year in law school ('98), and still on occasion write more than one a day, but my days of writing a poem a day for any extended period of time are long over. It takes enormous stamina. Thirty in one month is a significant accomplishment, and folks doing that this April should be proud of their commitment. Thanks for this note, Ada, and happy NaPoWriMo.
    -- Seth

  4. April 18, 2008
     Nicole Callihan

    I love the wild flurry of a poem a day made public. Somehow in losing our self consciousness, I think we find a bit of magic. Thanks, Ada, for this article.

  5. April 18, 2008

    Tried the poem a day thing, too. Exhausting, yes, but the poems had more of a unified feel and tone than if they'd been done the conventional way. It was fun. All it took was discipline - and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Lots.

  6. April 21, 2008
     Jessie Carty

    This is my second year of trying to write NaPoems. If you get a few decent ones out of the group I feel it is a win :) But sometimes blogging about it each day is even harder than writing the poems themselves.