I feel naturally drawn to writing poetry for National Poetry Month. Lately, other than my reflective blog, poetry is my most common form of writing. I have a couple ideas for childrens’ storybooks and also want to reach out to a couple publishers who accept applications/queries to write for hire, but I have a lot of things on my plate this month.
We are getting our house ready to sell. It’s a lot of work. I’ve been cleaning out closets, making trips to goodwill and consignment stores, and basically purging anything we do not want to move or use in the future. In some ways, it’s been fun, because I get to look back on the memories I find stored in totes. There’s been stuffed animals, Pez dispenser collections, high school awards, college awards, pottery, music and music stands (3), and books – lots of books. The job is keeping me busy but at this time of year – when it’s wet and brown outside – the indoor chores are taking precedence.
I have also been editing my chapbook of nature poetry. It went to an editor and she returned it to me on April 1st. I’ve been incorporating her edits and suggestions. It was a great experience to have another set of eyes on my work. And, the fact she seemed to like my writing was a bonus! But, now that the editing is done by the editor – I have to finish making the final changes. I’ve set a tall order for myself this month – to get my chapbook of nature poetry published! The reason for this is that I am participating in a poetry reading at an art gallery in Iowa in May. I can sell my chapbook there if I can get it done in time.
Luckily, I took a class from Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell of Pomelo Books on publishing poetry anthologies as an indie author. The information can easily apply to a book of poetry from a single author as it does to anthologies. I’ll be taking the dive into KDP (Kindle Direct Press) soon. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to update you on the progress. I know it doesn’t take long once the process is started. I’ve already formatted the book in Canva and that step should save me time now.
However, all these tasks have a steep learning curve for me because I’ve never done them before. Participating in NaPoWriMo will be a nice distraction from reviewing the poems I’ve invested the last two years in putting together.
The idea behind NaPoWriMo is to obviously celebrate poetry by writing thirty poems in thirty days. Most seem to be writing a poem day having come up with their own National Poetry Month Projects using their own prompts. But, you can still participate by having thirty poems you’ve written over the course of the whole month. By default, this is the path I’ve chosen for my first year of participation in National Poetry Month and NaPoWriMo. April first happened to be Poetry Friday and I wrote two haiku about some observations I made in nature on that day. I’ve also written two poems for the Metaphor Dice Poetry Contest hosted by Taylor Mali. You can check him out here in a TED talk he gave about What Teachers Make. It is from 2005 but it absolutely is worth a watch! Mali gained fame from these poetry slam events, as I understand.
This means something to me because I am a teacher. No, I don’t have a license, but I teach. Perhaps this will be the topic of my poem today. If you asked me what I wanted to be when I was young, the answers varied. At times I wanted to be a flight attendant (stewardess was the appropriate word at the time. Other times, I wanted to be a scientist. I had a chemistry set and geology set. Both kept me busy for hours. I had a microscope and a telescope – both from Bausch and Lomb where my father went to work every day for the length of his whole career. I watched my mom come up with units on Robin Hood and cowboys and other engaging topics for her third-grade classroom. This, of course, was done in the summer. And, well before the days of prescribed standards. Any child lucky enough to have had my mom as a teacher was given something special during their days in school.
Thus, I finally became what I was meant to be – a teacher. After going to University to become a nurse and graduate school to become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, I taught nursing at two institutions. After having my boys and electing to stay home, I taught crafts at the local childrens’ museum for three years. I taught in the classrooms where my boys had wonderful teachers who allowed me to use my talents. I taught in our schoolyard with the permission of three principals who saw value in an after-school garden club. And, it was through these experiences I found poetry.
Even now, after going back to school again, in my mid-fifties, to obtain yet another advanced degree in Environmental Education, poetry follows me. I use it in my lessons as often as I can. I keep learning, teaching myself, the ways of rhyme, rhythm, and flow.
Yes, I am a teacher. Let the poetry begin!