Poetry Month – April 2017

Dr. Joel Ying, MD

Physician, Educator, Storyteller. He hosts this website for "Living the Present Moment" as a conscious journey of Body, Mind, Emotion & Spirit. Holistic and integrative, his practice includes Tai Chi and Yoga, Craniosacral Therapy, Healing From the Core, Meditation. Always exploring his edges, he shares them in the blog, newsletter, courses, and online study group.

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April is NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) in the United States and Canada; or for my international friends, GloPoWriMo (Global Poetry Writing Month).

In this annual project, participants take on the challenge to write a poem a day for the month of April: 30 poems in 30 days. Maureen Thorson began a personal challenge in April 2003 to write a poem a day and post on her blog. The challenge spread across the internet and even to those with just pen and paper.

Who can participate? Everyone. Just write a poem a day for the month of April, and you are participating. They don’t have to be good. Just keep writing. Take on the challenge yourself.

Writing is a great way to cultivate presence, and poetry in particular. I often start with a feeling, and struggle to express it through words with imagery, intellect, and word-play. Most of all, I try to have fun. There is a strange thing that happens with the expression of my inner life (feelings and emotions, thoughts and motivations). I gain clarity on the page as my inner life moves outside of me. Sometimes, I like to constrain my creativity with structure or a prompt. Other times, I like to let go into a free form.

There is a shift in writing for yourself versus writing for others. I recently discovered my little editor standing on my shoulder and telling me what I should and should not reveal, what I should and should do, that’s just not interesting, no one will want to read that… Yes, my inner critic is a fantastic editor, but he can also block my creativity!

Silence your own inner critic (press the snooze button). Start by writing for yourself and just get the words on the page. Start by writing just for you. If you think, “wow this is good,” then wake up your editor and say, “OK, I’m going to send this out into the world. What do you think?” If it feels safe, publish. If not, hold onto it for awhile. You can burn it, delete it, shred it, file it, or even just ignore it. Just by the act of writing it down, your inner voices will thank you.

Don’t Have to Be Good

The process of poetry is a gift of inner exploration or just plain fun.

To prove that they don’t have to be good, here’s my entry for the day:


A poem for you,
It’s an actual Haiku.
Not a sneeze… Achoo.

NOTE: Haiku is a traditional Japanese poem of 3 lines. Each line containing 5, 7, and 5 syllables, respectively. Traditionally, the topic is nature with a juxtaposition of themes. As very terse and tight poetry, it has come into English literature mimicking the Japanese poem structure.


OK, now for something more inspiring…

Here’s one of my favorite spoken word poets:
Sarah Kay – If I Should Have a Daughter