Doing My Own NaPoWriMo

Every year for the last decade, I have attempted to complete NaPoWriMo, the month-long celebration of National Poetry Month that challenges writers to use a series of prompts and complete one poem a day. And every year I have not completed the challenge.

So this morning, April 1, I did what I do at the start of every NaPoWriMo: I jumped on the Internet and tried to locate a set of prompts that appealed to my sensibilities so I could start the challenge anew and “finish this time.”

I found myself on the official unofficial NaPoWriMo website (the one run by the creator of NaPoWriMo, Maureen Thomson), and I tried to get into the video posted there as the prompt for the first day of the challenge, but I couldn’t.

Maybe it’s because of the fresh snow covering up everything outside my window (on April 1). Maybe it’s because Derek Chauvin is on trial for murdering George Floyd, and I am terrified that he will be acquitted. Maybe it’s because after failing to receive the first and second stimulus payments from the Fed for Covid relief, and I am holding my breath until I receive this third one. I don’t know.

Whatever it was, the surrealist imagery of that video, even thought is was dancing in technicolor over the soulful jazz of Sun RA, wasn’t doing anything for my imagination.

The most I could think was: This looks like a set of diagrams from a biology textbook gone wild.

As usual, I got frustrated. That is what always happens with NaPoWriMo. Eventually I either get frustrated with the prompts or with myself because I can’t find anything inspiring in them or in my world to help me complete them.

And then I had a brainstorm. Why not approach this year’s NaPoWriMo as a teacher of writing rather than a student of writing?

So I am going to complete NaPoWriMo for 2021 by coming up with a new poetry prompt for each day of this month rather than a new poem.

I am already more excited by this idea than I have been for NaPoWriMo in a long time.

I hope that anyone that reads this post and uses the prompts will share with me any good work that comes out of them.

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