April is Poetry Month.
I am doing it again. I am taking the Poetry Month Challenge and writing a poem or poetry related hub every day for the month of April.
Every year, for many years, I have taken part in a Poetry Month Challenge where I try to write a poem a day for thirty days.
I usually only make it about 27 days into the month but that is of no consequence. I am trying again this year and I have many ideas and plans.
My excitement level is at an all time high and I can hardly hold my anxiety. Who would have thought that April would have such an effect on me.
Poetry month this year should see an amazing amount of socially conscious poetry from a wide variety of poets. The great conflicts between the electorate and the elected and the continuing divide between the classes are just two of the major issues poets have been dealing with this year.
We have the illumination of the LGBT community as a force to sway political decisions, further movement in the cause of Women's rights, and a revival of a lost civil rights movement that needed to be brought back to the surface more sooner then later.
Through all of this poets have been writing more poems and artists have been creating at an alarming rate to share their feelings with the world. These are the times that movements start.
For instance the "Lost Generation," including Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, and Ernest Hemingway started in Paris after the isolationist conservatism in America after World War I.
There were the beat poets from New York City that rebelled against the conservatism of the 1950's to the hippy writers during and after the Vietnam War.
There was the Pop Art movement of the eighties where the public started to see street art for its true value. We saw the creation of Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michele Basquait.
It is during times of crisis like now that we see an explosion of arts and creations of artistic movements that not only change everyone's view on art but change the outlook of the world.
The First Year
The first year I took the challenge I decided to use the challenge as a way to familiarize myself with many different forms.
I centered most of my poetry around chores around the house and taking care of my children and included a few confessional type poems and science poems.
The beauty of this first Poetry Month was how much my knowledge of poetry grew and how much more confident I was with my poetry.
In reading books about meter and form I kept going back to my Paul Fussell book, an essay I am using for my first poetry month entry this year, and read about how writing limericks and sonnets was a great practice in the use of meter.
So I started writing sonnets and limericks and grew with every one written. Once your mind picks up the rhythm of the song it holds on tight, it is amazing what is achieved by this practice.
Before April I wanted to confess.
I figure that poetry has been used as a tool of confession since Robert Lowell wrote the first confessional poem and Anne Sexton immortalized her poems with her untimely suicide.
This is time to write about Jamie Hamann. I have been writing a lot of informational articles and only writing a few poems and short stories at creativeexiles.com. A collective of creative writers that started from a dream by John Hansen. A dream that has grown to see the birth of an Anthology of Poems published this last year and available on Amazon. I even performed a few poetry readings promoting the book in a few small towns in Nevada to very small, yet present, audiences.
This year, to me, has been one of life changing struggles. First of all I decided that I wanted to try my hand at education. I worked on my Masters of Arts in Teaching and soon found myself in a local Middle School as a Science Teacher.
Not only was I a horrible teacher but my wife and children where greatly affected by the change in careers. One, there was a considerable loss of pay and a greater amount of time dedicated to work. This is not the only reason but soon my wife was asking for a divorce.
I fell into a deep despair and felt alone. I moved a mattress out onto the living room floor and continued to work on the never ending task of grading papers and writing lesson plans. At the end of the year I was asked to resign. After much soul searching I realized that I needed to go back to my old employment, in medical labs working with tissue.
During the time that the school I worked at asked for my resignation and my wife had asked for a divorce I started Outpatient Mental Health care through the VA. The VA diagnosed me as having "Avoidance Personality Disorder."
There is a certain grit that has found its way into my poems. Reality to me is the reality I created through my poems, let them be my confessional.
Six Years Ago in April
Most of the poems I wrote for my first Poetry Month Challenge are no longer published on Hubpages. I have moved them over to a slush pile for rewrite or collection.
I have compiled my old poetry at Allpoetry.com. I also have put a considerable amount of energy into my web page simplepoetics.weebly.com. I am very proud of this site and I feel that if you love poetry you should stop by and take a peek.
My first year, 2011, the year I began again. I had been writing poetry for many years and took place in poetry readings and even joined some memorable poetry groups. My creative process was slow and only a few poems were written at a time and many were lost.
My roommate at the time, Thoughtsandwiches for anyone who remembers, started writing wonderful humorous hubs and got me hooked. We both started writing for Hubpages with a gusto and both of us seemed to find ourselves doing rather well.
Thoughtsandwiches has moved on and makes his living as a freelance online writer.
Anyway, someone introduced to me the National Poetry Month Writing Challenge that required a poem a day. I was excited and put much time and thought into how I was going to tackle this challenge.
I picked up a book on modern poems that used classic forms and opened the book to the beginning of the Appendices. Quickly I worked my way through all the forms until thirty poems were created and published each day that month.
I considered this my first real education in poetry. Granted I have read many poetry anthologies and many poems but I had never really scanned a poem or thought deeply on the uses of different poetic structures.
This was an incredible time and my poetry was starting to blossom. April ended and I found myself thirty poems ahead. I continued to read more on poetic form and decided to do a little research for each poem written afterward.
A crucial lesson was learned. The primary force behind art and poetry is choice and without knowledge ones choices are limited.
The Second Year
While I was writing sonnets and limericks I was falling deeply in love with W.H. Auden. My mom bought me his collected poems for my birthday and I began to read them.
What wonders in Auden. He said that to him falling upon a rarely used metrical device within a poem was more exciting than incredible content. Not that he believed in bad content but he put more emphasis on form than content.
I found that I was a similar poet. I found I loved form and consider myself a formal poet. Not an outdated poet or a poet who refuses to write any confessional free verse, I have plenty free verse poems, but a poet who loves rhythm and meter.
I wrote more Haiku than normal during this poetry month and I added a new practice to my writing regiment. Where sonnets and limericks kept informing me of meter and rhythm, Haiku helped me become comfortable with my words and ideas.
Haiku is this wonderful syllabic tool to help find the shortest way to convey what I need to say.
My diagnosis closed the deal with my marriage. I started heavy medications that I am still on and I am seeing a Therapist every week.
I lived in a world of fantasy I created that was full of these poetic characters that I constantly wrote about. I did not put enough energy into my relationships except my children whom I always spent time.
I moved into my parents house in Gardnerville Nevada only seeing my children once every two weeks and worked in a lab that was about an hour commute. I did this for many months. Finally I was able to find a home close to work with many rooms and a yard. I now see my children every weekend.
My wife and I go to court at the end of this month. I have given into whatever may happen but have made it very clear that I want joint custody. We will see when the time comes.
I am not the only one in my family affected by a diagnosis. During the time I was living with my parents my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.
All of this threw me into a whirlwind depression. But through all of this I was able to rebuild a relationship with my parents, especially my father. I have found love and hope from many new places that humanity once again makes me smile.
My second year took on a whole new outlook. My son Elias was a month away from birth and my wife and I looked into homebirth options for VBAC. We also were looking for a home to buy so we could feel more secure with our growing family.
This was a tiring and rough time. I did not mention that we rented a small house at the foothills of Mt. Rose and had to deal with some extremely difficult weather situations. When it came to poetry I refused to not partake in the Poetry Month Challenge.
This was the year I found a new love in sonnets. I began to write sonnets, (English, Italian, Curtail, Couplet) any type of sonnet I could find. I started a love affair with iambic pentameter, a meter that most frown upon.
This new found love affair with sonnets and iambic pentameter started with a reread of an old Fussel text I had kept next to my bed. I was writing two sonnets a week and quickly filled up a Mead binder.
I was proud of quite a few poems that came out of the challenge that year. Some still remain here on hubpages but most of year two also found its way into a revision stack.
The Third Year
Since I had already challenged myself to thirty poems in thirty days I decided to write poems and essays for my third Poetry Month Challenge.
I started April with an essay on form based on Fussell's book. I truly enjoyed the progress of those thirty hubs and felt that I was pushing the limits and learning so much more.
I have to admit that some of the writing was not the greatest and some could have used a little editorial help but all in all I was proud of my accomplishments.
I want to talk a little about sonnets.
There was a few long poems and a few extras but most of the poems I wrote for the third year were sonnets. I describe in my essay on Fussell how there is a chapter dedicated to the art of the sonnet.
An amazing form, the sonnet, within the fourteen lines of a classical English or Italian sonnet there is a change of ideas, a question and answer period, a purposeful addition of drama, and a multitude of choices to make.
The structure is almost purely mathematical in nature. What? You may ask. Mathematical in nature? Well, the first eight lines are usually two quatrains that delineate the idea that changes, the question to answer, or a lead up to drama.
Then the sonnet ends with a sestet, mostly Petrarchan sonnets end this way but not always. The ending sestet explains the idea in detail, answers the question, opens the drama of the poem.
So where does math fit in? The 4+4 of the dual quatrains give the perfect amount of time to deliver and the sestet can be broken in to 3+3 for a more in depth discussion of ideas, answers, or drama.
Let's look at meter. Iambic Pentameter is the common meter of sonnets. Contemporary poetry seems to frown on the sing song nature of iambic feet, but having a firm grasp on the sound that iambic pentameter creates will help to develop an ear for sound when writing other poems.
Also, I feel that in the past, sonnets were written in iambs primarily but for contemporary poetry it is important to know that the writer has the freedom to play with other sounds and other feet that fit within the pentameter.
When you look at the whole picture. Sonnets contain a wealth of information on how to make drama work within a poetic frame and how to work sound and beat into your poems.
It is time to move on.
There are some incredible poets here on Hubpages and I am grateful to be a part of such a family of writers.
I hope that many of you decide to join me this month and publish as many poems as you can. Let us fill the world with poetry in the month of April. Let us show everyone the power of our words.
I will keep an eye out for all of you and I hope that your April is as exciting as mine. Please feel free to comment on my poetry I will respond. Let me know whether you liked it or not, be critical, I will not be upset at all but thankful.
For those of you I love here on Hubpages, please do not be offended by my silences.