Friday, February 01, 2013

Poetry Friday


When I get in a rut
I remind myself:
rhythm needs jazz.

When I lose my focus
I remind myself:
jazz needs rhythm.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2013

In January, I created a rut for myself -- I wrote a poem a day for Kathryn Apel's Month of Poetry (#MoP13) Challenge. My routine was to get up, exercise/walk, then sit down and write a poem before getting ready for school. To be able to to ready to sit down at the kitchen table and produce a poem meant that I had to have been "writing" all day long (maybe in my dreams) and during my early morning walk. By "writing" I mean constantly thinking about what I would write for the next day's poem: looking for the story, the scene, the emotion, the rich words that sounded just right together.

The biggest gain was the habit and the attitude of mind. Every poem wasn't great, of course. Very few came even close.

And there were losses. At first I couldn't figure out how to be a good group member on the private #MoP13  site where we posted our poems and commented on others'. I was posting at about 6 AM, which was near midnight in Australia when most of the other participants had already posted, commented, and gone to bed. The more I managed to get involved in the #MoP group, the less I visited Twitter (where I was already sporadic) and FaceBook (which resulted in being the last to know about things like a certain broken wrist).

I'm going to keep this rut in February, but I'm going to jazz it up a bit. I'm going to add some time (a poem every TWO days), use the dictionary (similar to, but not exactly the same way Amy LV did last April), and require every poem to rhyme. I'm also going to take today off (partly because I know what my first poem will feature a "green door").

Jazz. Rhythm.

Music -- and poetry -- need both.

April has the roundup today at Teaching Authors.


  1. What a great reminder for all of us in our own little "ruts." I think MY LIFE IN MUSIC is superb because it reminds me to search for that little touch of jazz.

  2. Gotta find your own rhymes and rhythms . . . you're a jazz baby! Have fun with your poems this month. :)

  3. Anonymous10:18 AM

    First of all, yay for jazz.
    Secondly, I just posted a poem about Australia!

  4. Love this little gem! I am glad to hear you are doing this, and extending it, and adapting it. Inspiring!

  5. You had me at jazz! A little gem indeed, and your rut doesn't sound half bad. I admire your tenacity and focus - please send some my way!

  6. Anonymous3:40 PM

    I love your plan. And the line:When I lose my focus....I need a plan myself.

  7. Very nice, Mary Lee!

  8. I like the idea that one cannot exist without the other. Nice poem, Mary Lee!! Thanks for sharing!! =)

  9. The March Slice of Life Challenge approaches, and I know that I will face a rut, too - what will I slice about for 31 days in a row? My life is not nearly as interesting as it needs to be for this particular challenge! But, you are right, Mary Lee, there is a certain discipline to the whole enterprise ... and every once in a while there is a decent slice!

  10. The "rut" you are in produced a sweet poem. Great reminder about our need for rhythm and jazz. Thanks for sharing. =)

  11. A little like adding some spice too & perhaps that's what will happen when you sit back for a day, some time to noodle before the jazz begins again. Nice poem Mary Lee. I so admire your succinct power!

  12. I like your jazzy little proverb poems. And Bravo! to you for the new habits you're forming.

    I think you'll like the extra day in between poetry-writing days. (I have found during times when I set goals of writing one poem a day, at some point some stubborn part of me doesn't want to write ANY MORE! It's better when I'm not so strict with myself--or maybe I need to be stricter and send myself to writing time-out when the pouting begins.)

    Violet N.

  13. Sounds like a good rut. I really like this little poem.

  14. I admire you for taking on the challenge. I did the 30 Day Poetry Challenge last year in April. I was amazed at how being alert and opening my eyes to where poems wait, I was able to get a few gems. I also got in ruts, too. We need to give ourselves permission to write badly. It's all a part of the process.
    Thanks for jazzing up my morning with your little ditty.

  15. Clever poem and beautiful observation, Mary Lee. It's hard to know what to say/how to respond to a poem...Your writing is "music to my ears" may be the most appropriate response here! And here's a short music piece you can listen to--not jazz, though. The title is "Moonlight Mist"--from a Piano lesson book--

  16. What a fun little poem! And so very wise, too...

    I'm just gonna say it. You are amazingly prolific as a writer, commenter, reader, thinker, teacher...and so generous with all these gifts, too. Thanks!

  17. Hi, Mary Lee. I feel your pain regarding the practice of such frequent poems. It's a great exercise for letting go of striving (for perfection? for "good enough" even?) But it can also be taxing. Have you tried using different forms to shake things up?

  18. Mary Lee! I LOVE this poem--it says so much in so few words! Like Linda, I admire your ability to be concise--man, oh man.

    I've written a poem a day for three years and when I threatened to quit, my friend Bruce, who, with his wife Alene, sails around the world, asked plainitvely, "But what would I read aloud to Alene at night?"

    The trick, for me, is that I send them to Bruce each day via sailmail (really!) I have someone who wants to read each poem.

    And, as Margaret says, we need to give ourselves permission to write badly. I call the quick poems, the bad ones, the half-cooked ones PHP poems--Place Holder Poems.



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