Wednesday, April 1, 2015

National Poetry Month 2015

Established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month begins on April 1st and runs through April 30th every year. This month-long celebration of poetry is designed “to widen the attention of individuals and the media to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide aesthetic range and concern.” During April, poets, poetry lovers, publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, and schools throughout the United States celebrate poetry.

One of the challenges of NPM is to read and/or write a poem every day. So ... in the spirit of the observance, for the fifth year I offer you what I hope will be inspiration for each of April’s thirty days.

This year, I’ve done some research into the most popular poems of all time and have listed my favorites among them below (in no particular order). As a change from previous years, this year, I ask you to click on the links below the poem titles and poets and to read the poems—one each day of the month. After reading the poem for any given day, spend some time with it; think about the content and anything in the poem that “strikes a chord” for you. Working from that “chord,” try to write a poem of your own that may or may not involve similar content. Let the famous poems inspire you and, then, follow your muse!

April 1—“Daffodils” (“I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud”) by William Wordsworth

April 2—“Remember” by Christina Rossetti

April 3—“If” by Rudyard Kipling

April 4—“Invictus” by W. E. Henley

April 5—“Hope Is the thing with Feathers” by Emily Dickinson

April 6—“Answer to a Child’s Question” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

April 7—“Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll (with audio)

April 8—“Love and Friendship” by Emily Brontë

April 9—“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

April 10—“I Carry Your heart With Me” by E. E. Cummings

April 11—“I Loved You” by Alexander Pushkin

April 12—“Life Is Fine” by Langston Hughes

April 13—“Seven Ages of Man” by William Shakespeare

April 14—“The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe

April 15—“I Taught Myself to Live Simply” by Anna Akhmatova

April 16—“Brown Penny” by William Butler Yeats

April 17—“If You Forget Me” by Pablo Neruda

April 18—“Digging” by Seamus Heaney

April 19—“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou

April 20—“Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” by Dylan Thomas

April 21—“Cinderella” by Sylvia Plath

April 22—“Laughing Song” by William Blake

April 23—“The Starry Night” by Anne Sexton

April 24—“Dreams” by Langston Hughes

April 25—“Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman

April 26—“No Man Is an Island” by John Donne

April 27—“Forgetfulness” by Billy Collins

April 28—“Blackberry-Picking” by Seamus Heaney

April 29—“The Bear” by Galway Kinnell

April 30—“Alone” by Philip Levine

1. Don’t feel compelled to match your content to the examples’—in fact, do just the opposite and make your poems as different as you possibly can. The example poems are only intended to trigger some poetry-spark that’s unique to you and to guide your thinking a little—don’t let them enter too deeply into your poems, don’t let their content become your content.

2. Let your reactions to the poems surprise you. Begin with no expectations, and let your poems take you where they want to go.

3. Give the topics your own spin, twist and turn them, let the phrases trigger personal responses: pin down your ghosts, identify your frailties, build bridges and cross rivers, take chances!

4. Keep in mind that writing a poem a day doesn’t mean you have to “finish” each poem immediately. You can write a draft each day and set your drafts aside to work on later.

5. Whatever you do this month, find some time (a little or a lot) to enjoy some poetry!

As always, your sharing is welcome,
so please feel welcome to post your thoughts and poems as comments!

Regular weekly prompts will resume on Saturday, May 2nd.
In the meantime, I wish you a wonderful and poetry-filled April!
Happy National Poetry Month!

Let the poem-ing begin!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Wonderful News!

When I started this blog, I promised myself that it wouldn't be an "about-me" blog, and I've tried to keep that promise. This week, however, I'm excited to share some really special news with you in lieu of a prompt or guest blogger post.

My new book, A Lightness, A Thirst, Or Nothing At All, is now ready for immediate shipment (at a generous discount) via



If you haven't already ordered a copy,
I very much hope you will (and thank you in advance for your support)!


(You may also place an order through your favorite bookseller.)

From the Publisher's Press Release

"Welcome Rain Publishers ( is pleased to announce publication of A Lightness, A Thirst, Or Nothing At All by Adele Kenny, a collection of 53 prose poems. Prose poems, which are arranged in short paragraphs rather than in lines, include deliberate fragments, the language of dreams, and an occasional nod to the surreal. Kenny combines these techniques with her signature elements of striking imagery and compelling immediacy to inform an enhanced view of the ways in which the interior life intersects with the outside world. These poems startle, surprise, and tell us things about ourselves that we didn't know."


About the Book

"A gorgeous, deeply pondered work of art. I love it."
          —Renée Ashley, Poetry Editor of The Literary Review

"In language so subtly pitched, paced and modulated it captures our attention without drawing attention to itself, Kenny draws us into discovering that what never changes is all around us in the ever-changing world, that one is only approachable, knowable, bearable through the other.  We trust her to be our guide because her vision is so unwavering."

          —Martin J. Farawell, Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival Director

"Talk about channeling! Here reborn is Emily Dickinson, replete with the mystery, the haunting spirituality, and the metaphysical imagery. Adele, more than any other contemporary poet, balances all these elements so well, though with a touch far more personal than Dickinson’s." 
          —Charles DeFanti, Author of The Wages of Expectation


Sample Poems

Click Here for Video Remix of "Twilight and What There Is" (Video and Reading by Nic Sebastian)


A stray dog laps the moon from a broken flowerpot. Silk hydrangeas bloom against the fence. A heron stands on the clothesline—bluer than blue—perched where (sky, earth) edges converge.

On the wall, the painting of a clock ticks, hands painted in at three forty-seven. She takes a wax apple from the bowl and peels it with a silver fruit knife. Sugared bread dries on the table. Across the room, a dimensional window masquerades as persuasion. If you believe it, it is.


Back then, I wasn’t sure what calling meant. I thought something mystical—God’s hand on my arm, a divine voice speaking my name. Instead, I discovered the colors of cyclamen, how even the meanest weeds burst into bloom.

It works like this—among the books and fires—grace comes disguised as the winter finch, its beak in the seed; the twilight opossum that feeds on scraps—her babies born beneath my neighbor’s shed. Every day, I learn what love is: the finches, the opossum, the child with Down Syndrome who asked, Can I hug you a hundred times?

Whatever idea I had of myself turns on this: what lives on breath is spirit. I discover the power of simple places—silence—the desire to become nothing.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Prompt #220 – Limericks

With St. Patrick's Day coming up this Tuesday, I thought it might be fun to work with a form of poetry that's associated with the Irish.

The limerick is a quintessentially Irish form of poetry. Humorous, and sometimes naughty (even downright bawdy), limericks contain three long and two short lines that rhyme in a pattern of a,a,b,b,a. The oldest limerick (format) on record (thirteenth century) is one in Latin written by Thomas Aquinas in the form of a prayer:

             Sit vitiorum meorum evacuatio
            Concupiscentae et libidinis exterminatio,
            Caritatis et patientiae,
            Humilitatis et obedientiae,
            Omniumque virtutum augmentatio

During the eighteenth century limericks appeared in Mother Goose’s Melodies, but was most widely popularized by Edward Lear in his 1846 Book of Nonsense; however, Lear didn’t use the term Limerick. Here’s an example from Lear’s book:

          There was an Old Man with a beard,
          Who said, “It is just as I feared!
          Two Owls and a Hen,
          Four Larks and a Wren,
          Have all built their nests in my beard!”

Other poets who wrote limericks include Lord Alfred Tennyson, Rudyard Kipling, and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Guidelines & Tips:

Remember that limericks are typically humorous—have fun writing one or more this week.

Pick a topic and write your limerick using the typical pattern:

The first, second and fifth lines rhyme with each other and have the same number of syllables (typically 8).

The third and fourth lines rhyme with each other and have the same number of syllables (typically 5)

The fifth line either repeats the first line or rhymes with it.

Limericks have an anapestic rhythm that’s created through accented and unaccented syllables. The pattern is illustrated below with dashes for weak syllables, and back-slashes for stressed syllables:

 - / - - / - - /
 - / - - / - - /
 - / - - /
 - / - - /
 - / - - / - - /

Click Here for Limerick Examples