Friday, 2 May 2014


I decided to have a go at NaPoWriMo.

NaPoWriMo stands for National Poetry Writing Month. Which is a poetry writing challenge where participating poets attempt to write a poem a day for the whole month of April.

And so at the end of the month you have 30 new poems! Which is amazing because in a given month I doubt that I ever normally write more than 5-10 poems. & of course it is unlikely that they are all - if any at all - going to be master pieces but one or two of them are bound to be half decent... right?

I've always thought that NaPoWriMo was a great idea. So it's a little strange that until now I had never given it a go. But that's ok because this is a year of firsts for me and so as a poet it's ideal that April 2014 would be my first attempt at NaPoWriMo.

So I gave it a go.

Only I came across a few little problems along the way. Right from the very beginning in fact! Because even though I have known about NaPoWriMo for awhile and know a lot of people who have done it over the past few years. I didn't actually realise that it was for the month of April! Not until I saw someone tweeting about it and by then it was already the 5th! But that was ok because I could just go from the 5th of April until the 4th of May instead. Which is still cool right?

But if only that was the end of the problems.
I found that while attempting NaPoWriMo there were three main challenges.

Even using the optional prompts - which I never really did - it can be hard to find the inspiration for a brand new poem each day. Also some days you have plenty of inspiration, get carried away and write 3, 4, 5 poems and then for the next few days you struggle even more than usual. It's much more difficult than I expected it to be. But then it's supposed to be a challenge.

Another major problem for me was working another my notoriously bad memory. On average I must waste an hour a day just travelling to and from the kitchen. I go there for something. Forget why I'm there. Get a glass of water. Take it back to the bedroom and then 5 minutes later I remember why I went there in the first place. It's also very rare that I leave the house without leaving at least one thing. Usually something extremely important like train tickets or passport!

Then there is the little issue of finding time. April 2014 will have to go down as one of the busiest times of my life. Between work, training to be a swimming teacher, making a film, planning an Edinburgh show, writing two blogs, training to swim the channel, climbing and all the other things I tried to cram into this insane month, it was sometimes quite hard to find the time to write a poem too. In fact the vast majority of the poems I did write, I wrote on the tube.

But enough of my excuses. Here is the confession. I didn't do it! At least I didn't complete the month. In total I'm sure I have written more than 30 poems but the challenge is to write a poem a day for thirty days. Instead - with a couple of days left - I have written poems on 25 days. Which isn't too bad and a massive improvement on an average month. However, it wasn't one a day for 30 days and so I have to accept that I have failed. Also looking through them I'm not sure I have one good poem between the lot of them haha 

So to summarise. Even though I didn't quite manage to complete it, I still think that NaPoWriMo is a great idea! It helps to increase the profile of poetry - which for me can only be a good thing - it inspires poets to be more prolific and hopefully inspires those who wouldn't normally write poetry to give it a try. So as far as I can see it's a win, win, win situation. Therefore, although it happens to be quite difficult for someone as busy and as forgetful for as I am, I simply need to try harder and be more committed. I also need to remember that there is always next year!

Happy Writing!

& here are a couple of the better poems:

Day 4
This was written the day after Peaches Geldof passed away and is for her sons.


That face
the one that is always there
the one that is full of hope, love and security
the one that feeds me and bathes me
the one that reassures me and settles me
the one that teaches me and nurses me
the one that will be there no more
that face.

Day 7

Dirt track almost narrower than
The old 4x4's wheelbase
Drop too high to see it's bottom
Overhang too low for roof rack
And up coming waterfall
Pouring fresh cool water
Down crumbling rock face
Splashing in through broken window
Even though I watch these scenes
play out on computer screen
the sickness feeling rises
From stomach into chest
And heart beats double time.

Day 13

Lyrics pursed on lips
rhythm waiting impatiently on hips.
You tap out a beat with
the toes of one foot
drum it out with
the fingers of one hand
“the next stop is
Kings Cross St Pancras”
the headphones come off
but the head continues to nod.

Day 20

He had
a grip like
a bears hug
a wolves bite
a lonely woman
holding you tight.
After which he tells me
“you have a firm handshake”.

Day 25

It's already the afternoon
but we lie still and silent on the bed
in the hope that time will stop.
The weekend fades fast
but we will it never to end.
We are not ready for goodbye.

As the warm September day
floods in through the thin pastel curtains,
the light dances on the pale naked skin
that I ache to know as well as my own.
We are strangers and unknown to me
it seems that this is how it will always be.

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