{npm22: thoughts that breathe, words that burn}

It’s National Poetry Month!

If we recall that a national poetry celebration was only officially launched in 1996, it seems ludicrous. Surely this celebrating has been going on forever! National Poetry Month has certainly gone from strength to strength; more than ever, people are reading poetry, students in schools are studying poetry, and more and more it’s being proven that poetry is good for our heads, good for our hearts, and feeds our souls. Here’s to the joy of a few pithy, provocative, clever, or amusing words to keep us going this month.

This year’s official poster from the Academy of American Poets features a line from an Amanda Gorman. There’s a poem in this place, the poster proclaims, and set within the chaos of crumpled newspapers, blaring headlines, and multiple mouths speaking, it appears that the poet has plenty of fodder for inspiration. Though my brain isn’t quite ready for digging through chaos to discover a month of poetry (WHY does April always seem to just …appear!?), smarter people than I have brought out their stars and prepared, so I’m hitching my wagon to a couple of bright ones:

Amy @ the Poetry Farm gave me the idea of creating poems inspired by proverbs. I’m using less familiar British and American proverbs primarily, but will grab any others which spark a thought. (Proverbicals.com and Phrases.org are two great reference sites.) Poetry Princess Laura, whose preference for short poetry is well-documented, is doing post-it note poems – and I think that’s a worthy length limit for me as well. I look forward to the exercise of trying to come up with short poems on conventional wisdom. Should be easy-peasy, right?

“After all is said and done, more is said than done.”


The roadside sign is boasting
men in orange weave week-long knots

CALTRANS – short for the California Deptartment of Transportation – are the slow men in orange. They’re awfully fond of crowing that they’re working our tax dollars. Ironically, most of them seem employed to supervise…

Poetry Friday is posted by my second cousin, Heidi, who is determined to save the planet and bring us together, one poem at a time. Jama-j is rounding up everyone this National Poetry Month over on Alphabet Soup, so do check back to her big list throughout the month. Here’s to Thomas’s Grey’s belief in poetry being words that burn, and thoughts that breathe. Here’s to becoming those who breathe fire.

14 Replies to “{npm22: thoughts that breathe, words that burn}”

  1. Tanita, I backtracked to read some of your poems for NPM 22. I do enjoy the terseness of small poems. Proverbs and sticky notes is a great way to celebrate National Poetry Month. Thank you for posting your offering of an image poem to my Poetryliscious Gallery.

  2. Pardon the so-late comment, Tanita, but I’m glad I finally got here! Your proverbial dodoitstickynote poem hits the mark, and I’m extra glad to discover that quote from Thomas Gray/Grey, which I hadn’t come across. I googled and the first thing that came up was this article about “poetic inquiry in the health professions”! https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8505582/ That’s pretty cool, right? And that graphic is gorgeous. Happy NPM, cousin!

    1. @2nd Cousin Heidi: I think that Thomas Grey quote I saw more in the UK (because they still have to memorize bits of Grey’s Elegy) on mugs and bags – but it’s so stirring and powerful. I don’t imagine my doggerel will ever “breathe fire,” but wouldn’t that be a goal!

  3. You sure those aren’t the ODOT guys? Maybe there’s a proverb about road workers and cut from the same mold.

    The Good Eyes Award goes to Laura for spotting the dodoitsu, and the Pick Your Pieces And Parts NPM Project Award goes to YOU!

    1. @MaryLee: I swear, it’s anyone with a reflective vest and a hard hat, these days… There seems to have to be a certain number of workers in order for work to be done: at least three to supervise, two to back the truck into traffic, two with signs and cones, and one to be scratching his head and checking his phone… at minimum. Otherwise some contractual obligation is not reached…

  4. Watch out for those “men in orange!” Nice wordplay in your poem Tanita. I like the scale of your proverb project, and sticky-note size restriction, thanks!

      1. Thanks for the greeting, Happy Poetry Month Tanita! I’m writing incognito during the week and posting on Friday’s due to teaching and an art deadline quickly approaching…

    1. @laurasalas: The ONLY way I know how to limit myself on length is to go hard on trying to stay with a form!! So, I’m going to revisit the dodoitsus, the tankas, try a siljo, and of course, flirt with haiku and a few other short-ish forms. We’ll see where we end up…

  5. I love that you are taking on two challenges and combining them for your project this month. I look forward to reading your poems.
    I had to snort when I read “Your tax dollars at work.” Oh the irony …

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.