Poet Laureate’s News

April 2021

Happy Poetry Month!

Phyllis MeshulamMany of us have the practice of writing a poem each day during April. If this sounds intimidating, consider the advice of William Stafford who wrote a poem a day for much of his life. “…if you get stuck, lower your standards and keep going.”

Significant revisions count. Haiku count. But I especially like another Japanese form – Tanka. Just two lines longer than the haiku, the tanka has the interesting property of starting with the concrete and finishing with the emotional. I’ll include the tanka lesson from Poetry Crossing below. But first, a couple of pressing items.

Looking over my postings, I realize I never shared in this column my video about the “I Am” lesson, a great way to introduce poetry and metaphor to students. And it would be a sure-fire way to get one more poem from yourself during April. Here are the links: English: https://vimeo.com/455355331 Spanish: https://vimeo.com/455526173

I’m issuing a call for submissions for our county anthology. (Please see the Call for Submissions section of this newsletter, as well as the County News.) The deadline will be 8/1, but please don’t wait to write and submit! (You could have 30 poems by the end of April, right?!) Over the last year I’ve frequently given prompts in this column. All of these would be appropriate for the sections I envision for this book. Look at the archives for 2020-2022 at the bottom of this column. Prompts are found in the months of March, February (though for Feb. you’ll have to watch my videos to find them), January (these are aimed more at school-age students, but could spark you, too), December, July, May. As in my list just now, the months appear in descending order. December – May are from 2020.

Also, I will be offering a virtual workshop on one of the themes for the anthology through Sebastopol Center for the Arts on Thursday, May 13 from 7 – 9. You will soon be able to register at their website: https://www.sebarts.org. The topic of this workshop will be the idea of seeing some of our foundational texts with new eyes and talking back to them in our poetry. (As in my March posting.) Past, current and future Sonoma poets are eligible. Cost is by donation $0 and up.

Here you may click on thumbnails of the pages about tanka from Poetry Crossing. And, yes, the lesson was written for elementary school students (do share!), but you’ll get the basic principle and a lovely example from classical Japan.

    tanka-1    tanka-2

Happy writing!

Phyllis Meshulem
Sonoma County Poet Laureate 2020-2022


Archives of previous Poet Laureate columns may be found here for 2012,  2013, 2014,  20152016-2017, 2018-2020 and 2020-2022.

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