National Poetry Month: PLAYING WITH FORM!

national poetry month 2It’s April and that means it is National Poetry Month! Even though I love a good celebration as much as the next person, I can’t help but wonder what does it really mean to have a National Poetry Month?

On one level, it means there’s an increase each April (since 1966 when NPM began) in poetry awareness and appreciation, which means it can be easier to find a poetry-related event in our community or a book about poetry at the library. This is exciting and fun to see because poetry often gets overlooked amidst the prose. And during April, most schools teach poetry-related lessons, which is phenomenal because I love thinking about kids having fun with poetry.

But still I wondered, What does it mean for me, the aspiring poet, at the most basic and personal level?

I’ve decided that beyond the sense of belonging a month of national celebration evokes, NPM meant for me, personally, it is time to try new things, new forms, new language, new ideas. A time to be a bit reckless and whimsical. A time to truly embrace poetry as a means of capturing the abstract, of painting with language, of experimenting with sound. A time to be brave with words.

Hand-drawn light bulb over bright colorful blots of paint, on wh

In the UK, they celebrate National Poetry Day in October, and it just so happened one October a few years ago in honor of the UK NPD I was flipping through The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop and learned about a form of poetry previously unknown to me – the sonnenizio. It was a moment of pure joy – a new form, a sparkly name… time to play!

Poet Kim Addonizio made up the form by playing with a sonnet. Thus the name, sonnenizio (sonnet + Addonizio) was born.  The rules are simple:

  • Borrow a line from someone else’s sonnet
  • Take a word from that line and repeat it in every other line (in some form – homonyms work!) in the poem
  • In true sonnet form, the poem should be 14 lines and the last two should rhyme 

try-something-newIn honor of National Poetry Month, I encourage you to play with the form. Even if you don’t consider yourself a poet, stretching yourself with a little poetry will work wonders for the rest of your creative life.

And if you do write something, let me know! I’m collecting poems inspired by Cupertino Poet Laureate events for publication in a community anthology. So email me with “Anthology” in the subject line with your sonnenizio (or poem in any other form!) or use the contact form on this website if you’d like to see your work included!

For inspiration, here’s an example by the inventor of the sonnenizio, Kim Addonizio, I found on Genius.com:

Sonnenizio on a Line from Drayton
by Kim Addonizio

Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part;
or kiss anyway, let’s start with that, with the kissing part,
because it’s better than the parting part, isn’t it –
we’re good at kissing, we like how that part goes:
we part our lips, our mouths get near and nearer,
then we’re close, my breasts, your chest, our bodies partway
to making love, so we might as well, part of me thinks –
the wrong part, I know, the bad part, but still
let’s pretend we’re at that party where we met
and scandalized everyone, remember that part? Hold me
like that again, unbutton my shirt, part of you
wants to I can tell, I’m touching that part and it says
yes, the ardent partisan, let it win you over,
it’s hopeless, come, we’ll kiss and part forever.

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