Ah, isn’t it great to receive actual mail that you can tear open and hold in your hands?

National Poetry Month 2014

Thanks to the Academy of American Poets for this big piece of actual mail – and for the reminder that my annual poetry marathon is almost here: a poem a day for 30 days.

Last year was my first time participating in National Poetry Month, and it was hard. As much as I like the idea of writing poignant verse each time I put my pen to paper, it just doesn’t happen like that every single day. In fact, most days it doesn’t happen like that. Most days I’m scribbling notes for an upcoming blog or proofing a short story and thinking, “yep, I still overuse commas.”

There is a different sort of depth both felt (and hopefully conveyed) when I write poetry. I can’t pull out poetry the same way I can produce blog content or marketing copy on the fly, even on days when I fill every last margin of my notebook with ideas. Poetry is, simply stated, a truer level of truth – and if I don’t feel connected to those sacred places in my soul while I’m writing, I can’t pull out a poem. Just about anything else might come out of the hat, but a poem? Nope.

I wrote some mediocre poems last April. There, I said it. I had committed to writing one poem each day, and sometimes I couldn’t get past the hurdles of a day job, a personal life, traffic jams, errands and other distractions to dig deep and pull out a little piece of truth in verse form. So as midnight approached and the hourglass began to empty, I admitted defeat and posted what I had managed to eke out. I wasn’t always proud of the finished product, but I was proud of myself for sticking to my commitment, writing and posting (even the mediocre ones) rather than making excuses and hiding behind my perfectionistic tendencies.

And, besides, I wrote some good poems, too. I wrote about my mom for the first time, which I hadn’t done in the five years since she died. That was something. And that poem, though I’m undoubtedly biased, was pretty good.

I’ve written poems more often since then, and sometimes they fall onto the paper with such an ease that I’m amazed. I’ve also read much more poetry; participating in National Poetry Month reawakened my long lost love for reading the likes of Mary Oliver and Hafiz and Brian Andreas.

So I’m diving in again this year. I’ll be working much more than I was last April and I’ll have a heavier homework load for Italian, but I’m committing to 30 poems in 30 days. And, hopefully, shuffled in among the mediocre ones will be some pieces I’ll be proud of.

Because being proud of myself is good. So is challenging myself. So is digging around to see what sorts of words are buried in the little poetic recesses of my soul. So is supporting the arts, even if it’s just with my pen and paper. All these things are good. This poetry stuff is good.

So join me. I hope you’ll read along. Or write along, if you’re feeling that adventurous.

If I’ve sparked your curiosity, here is my favorite poem I’ve written so far: Intermezzo. Enjoy. And see you in April.

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