Useful and Necessary: April is National Poetry Month

April is upon us and it’s National Poetry month!

Lately, when I need a break from the news cycle, when I need to refill my emotional and artistic reserves, I’ve turned to poetry. I’ve blogged before about poetry’s usefulness here and here. Put simply, poetry interrogates our society and our humanity, it shapes our language and our world even if only a fraction of people read (very much of) it.

In keeping with my increased commitment to engagement this year, here are the actions I’m taking to celebrate poetry this month:


I subscribed to Poetry Magazine. Though, if money is tight their website has plenty to offer, or put their poetry spinner on your phone.


I am working on a poem/writing poetry for 30 minutes a day. I considered doing a poem-a-day challenge, but have come to realize that when writing prose or poetry, creating a finished project takes exactly as long as it takes. As someone who loves polishing prose and tinkering with the line, this really scratches my itch. I’m hoping that it will free me up in my prose work, especially when I need to push through a rough draft – that early writing that is so messy and ugly and necessary.

Feeling a little shy about diving back into writing poetry, I found Sharpened Visions: A poetry workshop, a lovely refresher/introductory mooc. (It just started, so not too late to join in. If you do, wave to me on the forums!)

I may never be a great poet, or even a good one, but it’s a practice worth any writer’s time. Poetry sharpens your eye to metaphor, image, and moment; it sharpens your ear to sound and lyricism.

If you want to try your hand here’s an exercise inspired by the Sharpened vision’s week one lesson 

Try inserting line breaks into a piece of prose: the opening paragraph from a famous novel, a newspaper article, or an insufferable interoffice memo…

For this, I used one of the Tiger Oil Memos from Letters of Note.

Here’s my try:


On days you have to work,
And you think you should be

you wear slouchy dress attire.

That will not occur

In the future. You

Will wear proper
Dress attire to work

Always. Also, all employees

should have the proper attitude to
Coincide with proper
Dress, Especially on those days

When you’re working and
Think you should be

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