What I learned from thirty days of poetry

Well, it looks like I’ll be ending my poetry month experiment with 19 out of 30 poems written. In no particular order, my learnings from this project:

1. It’s hard to be creative on demand. For me creative work comes, unbidden, while my hands are busy with other things. Riding bikes. Wandering.

2. Judgment hurts.

3. It’s hard to take risks in front of peers.

4. Writing every day kept it at the forefront of my mind. Publish even when the poem feels a little weak.

5. Mentor texts are so necessary! We learn by reading a thousand examples and studying a few in depth.

6. Poetry lives between the lines. It takes patience to read and write.

7. The speed of writing poetry is liberating for kids (and me)… they can draft, revise, and edit in a single period.

8. Fatigue makes it hard to be creative. When every minute is full there’s no time for thoughts to bubble up.

9. The deadline of a poem a day was tough for me. I like that I can whip off a poem in a few minutes of writing, but the poems that actually meant something to me took many days to wrangle onto a page. Sometimes the wrangling lead me back towards my preferred genre of narrative fiction. So, while I didn’t meet my goal of 30 poems in 30 days, I did dust off a couple of short stories and found the courage to hit submit and another is simmering on the back burner.

I think this year’s iteration of poetry month was probably one of the most rewarding for me as I jumped right in and took risks alongside my students. I’m proud of the work they created (and a little proud of the work I created beside them).

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