Poetry Season

In America and Canada it is National Poetry Month.

And in that lovely, internet-erly world of camaraderie and social campaigning, it is also National Poetry Writing Month, or NaPoWriMo to the nerds among you (e.g., me).

Some members of my family are taking the expedition to heart, and it’s filled my world with lots of words and ideas.

Good fodder for Spring I think.

Should you feel courageous enough to join the fray, as reader or writer, here are a three simple suggestions:

SPL Poster Dancing Wain_0One: read poems

I know.

Trust me, I know.

Poetry is A Thing.

A hard Thing of in-the-know and clever and obtuse and snobby.

It can be. But it isn’t always.

It can be wonderful and marvellous and not at all work sometimes too.

There are poets out there who you’ll like, I promise.

Not liking poetry is like not liking movies or shoes — you just haven’t found the ones that fit yet.


My go-to source for poetical inspiration is the utterly brilliant Scottish Poetry Library; and not just because they are based here in Edinburgh (though, full disclosure: I have recently become a card carrying member).

Their poetry collection spans the globe, and the resources and friendly support are invaluable to poetry novices like me.

You can search by theme and keyword, access resources and explanations, and even print your own poetry posters (the image above is one of theirs).

I adore the simple charm of these posters. I want to wallpaper my whole house with them. This one and this one and this one all reside along our living room wall. I like to think of it as a romantic, homely found poem of our own.

They publish these posters in batches, usually on a theme. The new collection on their website, all quotes about books and libraries, are truly lovely.

And if you’re still unconvinced, here is the How To from the city’s Carry A Poem campaign to help you get started…

how-to-read-a-poem Edinburgh Carry a Poem City of Literature

Two: read poems in a new light

One of my favourite poetry anthologies is Owen Sheers’ A Poet’s Guide to Britain.

It’s a collection of poems on landscape and nature, threaded into a chain based on themes and geography rather than person, time or form.

It trickles and flows with an organic mix of modern and classical verse; some familiar, others obscure. Almost all are totally readable, and the way the pieces fit together is just as interesting as the original texts.

Tangentially, the television series of the same name was on BBC 4 years ago. Sheers’ unpicking of the unassuming Poem from LLanybri, and the Welsh landscape and wartime life on which it is based, is a lovely ode to what documentary television (and good poetry) can do.

sheers poets guide to britain

Three: write poems

If you’re feeling ambitious, jump on the NaPoWriMo bandwagon by all means. There are daily prompts to get the juices flowing, and profiles of other folk taking part to give you an idea of what’s out there.

Thirty poems in as many days was too many for me, so I took on a smaller hurdle. I think one better suited to me, too: a single poem, but one I had to actually send out into the world.

Let me tell you though, writing a poem and then putting it on the inter-webs is a challenge all its own.

It’s the same kind of nervous you get when singing in school assemblies in middle school and friending ex-flames on Facebook (not that I’ve done either, obviously) — a sort of tingly scary Conspicuous where your eyes go blurry and your ears fill with fluffy bees.

Should you care to laugh at my morning’s efforts or feel inspired to try your own, you can find it amongst the collection of Notes from Mythical Women on Morning and Other Stories; which I believe is still taking submissions.

Happy Poetical Travels…

SPL Poster Tiny Radiance Norman MacCaig_0

One Response to “Poetry Season”
  1. Dappled says:

    We are still taking submissions! Come and send me your things! I’m @atarbuck on twitter.


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