30FOR30 Poetry Challenge: April 30

Week Five: Response
April 30th: Write a poem responding to this quote from Toni Morrison: “There is really nothing more to say – except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.”

Today’s prompt is to write a poem responding to this quote from Toni Morrison: “There is really nothing more to say – except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.” Use this time as a reflection on the previous month. What does it mean to write? Why do you write? Or is it a question of how you are able to approach something through writing? Meditate.


Feel free to post your piece in the comments!


30FOR30 Poetry Challenge: Form Friday, April 29

Week Five: Response
April 29th: Write an Ars Poetica.

Today’s prompt is to write an ars poetica. An ars poetica is an exploration or composition of writing on the art of poetry or poetics. As National Poetry Month winds down, take this time to reflect on your own poetics and writing style. Reflect on what you have written this month and compose your thoughts into an ars poetica. 


Here’s an ars poetica by Sharon Olds: 

Take the I Out

But I love the I, steel I-beam
that my father sold. They poured the pig iron
into the mold, and it fed out slowly,
a bending jelly in the bath, and it hardened,
Bessemer, blister, crucible, alloy, and he
marketed it, and bought bourbon, and Cream
of Wheat, its curl of butter right
in the middle of its forehead, he paid for our dresses
with his metal sweat, sweet in the morning
and sour in the evening. I love the I,
frail between its flitches, its hard ground
and hard sky, it soars between them
like the soul that rushes, back and forth,
between the mother and father. What if they had loved each other,
how would it have felt to be the strut
joining the floor and roof of the truss?
I have seen, on his shirt-cardboard, years
in her desk, the night they made me, the penciled
slope of her temperature rising, and on
the peak of the hill, first soldier to reach
the crest, the Roman numeral I–
I, I, I, I,
girders of identity, head on,
embedded in the poem. I love the I
for its premise of existence–our I–when I was
born, part gelid, I lay with you
on the cooling table, we were all there, a
forest of felled iron. The I is a pine,
resinous, flammable root to crown,
which throws its cones as far as it can in a fire.

Feel free to post your piece in the comments!

30FOR30 Poetry Challenge: April 27

Week Four: Social/Political
April 27th: Write a poem addressing one of the following genocides: Armenia (1915), The Holocaust (1933), Cambodia (1975), Rwanda (1990), Bosnia (1995), or Dafur (2003).

Google defines genocide as: “the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation.”


Feel free to post your piece in the comments! 

30FOR30 Poetry Challenge: April 26

Week Four: Social/Political
April 26th: Write a poem navigating through the relationship between “home” and “homeland.” 

logoToday’s prompt is to write a poem navigating through the relationship between “home” and “homeland.” Where we call home does not always coincide with what we consider our homeland. In fact, most people will claim it to be different, right. Journey through this relationship.  Discover your home. Is your home your homeland? What is the difference? 

Here’s a poem from Tarfia Faizullah:

En Route to Bangladesh, Another Crisis of Faith

—at Dubai International Airport and ending with a line by César Vallejo


Because I must walk
            through the eye-shaped
shadows cast by these
            curved gold leaves thick
atop each constructed
            palm tree, past displays
of silk scarves, lit
            silhouettes of blue-bottled
            I grip, as though for the first
time, a paper bag
            of french fries from McDonald’s,
and lick, from each fingertip,
            the fat and salt as I stand alone
to the side of this moving
            walkway gliding me past dark-
eyed men who do not look
            away when I stare squarely
back—because standing
            in line to the restroom I want
only to pluck from her
            black sweater this one shimmering
blond hair clinging fast—
            because I must rest the Coke, cold
in my hand, beside this
            toilet seat warmed by her thighs,
her thighs, and hers.
            Here, at the narrow mouth
of this long, humid
            corridor leading to the plane,
I take my place among
            this damp, dark horde of men
and women who look like me—
            because I look like them—
because I am ashamed
            of their bodies that reek so
unabashedly of body—
            because I can—because I am
an American, a star
            of blood on the surface of muscle.

Feel free to post your piece in the comments!

30FOR30 Poetry Challenge: April 25

Week Four: Social/Political
April 25th: Write a poem about war.

Today’s prompt is to write a poem about war. When thinking of “war,” don’t only think of wars against countries. What are other types of wars we go through? What are some wars you go through? 


Here’s a poem from Warsan Shire: 

from War Poem


There is a war going on in my country. In all the years I have
lived in this body, there has been no peace. My mother still
has hope in her heart, she keeps a suitcase packed just in
case. This whole life we have been waiting for our flight to be
called. In the recurring dream I board a plane to Mogadishu.
Every passenger on the plane is my mother, my mother in
the seat beside me reading a crime novel, my mother in an
ill-fitting uniform serving drinks, my mother as the pilot,
winking, tipping his cap. When the plane starts to fall out
the sky I wake up.


Look, one war giving birth to another
one war crawling out from between the
legs of another, out of the rubble
of one war crawls out another
look, a snake swallowing its own head.


What do I do? I think I brought the war with me
unknowingly, perhaps on my skin, plumes
of it in my hair, under my nails. It sits with me,
watches my favourite TV shows,
sighs in the pauses of telephone calls,
sleeps between me and my partner in bed,
stands behind me in the shower – lathers my back,
presses the pill into my night time tongue,
at the bathroom sink uses its blue hand to
touch my cheek.

Even the dentist jumped back from the wormhole
of my mouth, I suspect it was probably the war
he saw. What do I do? I want to make love but my hair
smells of war and running and running.

Feel free to post your piece in the comments!

30FOR30 Poetry Challenge: April 24

Week Four: Social/Political
April 24th: Write a poem about body politics.

Today’s prompt is to write a poem about body politics. “Body politics” can be defined in varying ways. One way, and the most common definition found on Google, concerns itself with a group of people under the same government. Or “body politics” can be defined as how one abides by the rules placed on their physical body–their person. Or maybe there’s another definition you cling to when you hear this phrase. Whatever definition you feel, write to that definition.


Here’s a poem by Sasha Pimentel Chacón:

Blood, Sister


is here in my rectum, knees and liver, here in your pulse and in your ears

is in the pounding wash inside your ears

each time you step before a jeepney, tricycle or taxi; here when you tap

on their windows with your tightened knuckles

and your smutted skin hits the glass and unfolding your face

from its poverty, you ask them, a bottle of root beer, a drink of Sarsi?

This blood pours out of you

flowers into bruises

each time you ask, because you must

often, you are outside of them, and they are inside the car, bus, or pedicab: they

are going somewhere

– you are not, and they refuse your drink because

you are not clean. Blood Sister, all along the squirming streets of Manila

your countrymen have forgotten you, and your knocks

do little to rouse them; they crawl on like before

on this, your stage, your cacophony of masques, where you enter

the smallest player

and offer them your usquebaugh

and beg them to drink.


This is the memory I am making up of you, little sister

from your photograph which uncurls like a plucked flower

on my refrigerator door, your face like an apostrophe, such an open

and tightened mark all at once – hesitating

to unwind, just on the brink

of telling me a secret. Do I not know you? Do we not bleed

the same

knurled feet

walking along Bataan with our American soldiers,

the same

angled hands

holding poisoned rice before the thrust of a Japanese bayonet,

do we not

both stink

from the skin with fermented shrimp paste

and glisten

with sweat

for the honeycombs of a soup of tripe?

Do we not

both bleed

of last names like an open mouth,

names made

from tongues

pressing clamshells behind the teeth?

I am rolling it out as I go along, I know

I am pushing you open

from myself, and you are so delicious to me,

the plumped flesh of a spined head of shrimp

I have sucked down whole.


And look what capitalism

has unmade me: a maker of poems.

A squiggly line, a raised scab.

Had you my father with his passports,

with his hope like the great blue vein

on his forehead of leaving the country

where we were made, where our mothers grunted

onto their bamboo mats, their throats

contracting into the exact moment of our

conception, where that city holds you still

on her thighs blossoming with colors

like the purple yam, where she is holding

you exactly where she has been hit again

and again, would you be

very different from me?

Perhaps we could have been

engineers, or doctors eating cancer

or mothers blooming down our

blouses-what you

could have pressed the puckered mouths

to drink! – drink! into their gurgling throats –


Sister, you consume me.

The handbill that comes

with your picture

says we are a gentle people,

says you like dancing

doing chores and sweeping

says you have dandruff

and have just begun menstruation;

it says before your ovary unwound

you thought the female egg

like those yellowed ovals

(the fermented / the contained young)

your brothers peddle

nested in newspaper,

the eggs I have eaten before

and felt the feathers

soft beak soft bones

slide down my own gullet.


What slum we thought Manila had come to when our emigrant selves returned,

what good luck the start we had struck in New York – See your birthright!

My mother motioned from the cab window, see the vinegar peddler, the street children,

the multitudes of hotels swaying and crouching on Pleasure Street,

and see that old man entering that girl for a peso!

But oh, what home I had never known

we came to, to see my grandfather sink

into his sickbed, to see Grandmother cry out no, not now,

you’d promised we’d the together. Oh, what home

I’d found, took pain and pleasure in then, each

black eye a part of my own, what blooded body

I could finally drink in – drink of the children

like chattering clamshells, drink of their smooth bones

full of sound. What a wonderful print this chain

of knuckles made on my cab window from the girl

selling bottles, glass bottles clinking

like treble chimes on her arm.


Balut! Balut!

We eat the developing body and I eat you my blood

my sullied brown knock-knee, my sponsored child

my limbs and bowed shins, my little squatter hemorrhaging into the river, darling

muezzin who calls me to feast on your intestine

– Blood Sister do you hear me?

I am crawling up your ear canal, I am the loudness in your pulse

I am the dhole, the lynx caracal, who are feasting on your throat

I am the hatchel in your hair, and at your elbow with papillote

I am the eyeful, the fistful, the severed self

I am the countryman who has run, is underdone, and undone

and I am the tightened asshole, the sliced onion

and builder of all shanties; friend, I am your disease

and I am at ease, and I am the tangle, the small ravel,

the singing philomel, friend, and I am the knell

the giant clamshell, the tolling city bells – sister! I am the Yell

– the yell

in your stomach, your own yell,

and I am eating you

because you take my place

in the streets.

You fill my mouth

because I am empty

of memory, birthright,

the bruise of begging,


and this is hunger, this is hunger.

Feel free to post your piece in the comments!