Pondering the Pantoum

Hey, friends, it’s Pi Day! I neither baked nor ate pie today, and I’m okay with that.

What I’m not okay with is our rapid progression toward April and me still with no idea what form I’ll focus on for National Poetry Month.

For folks who are new to this sleepy space, that’s a thing I do: pick a poetic form and explore it by writing a poem in that form every day for the month.

… or try to. I ran aground last year. I chose to write a pantoum a day. I also decided to dedicate the month to Say Her Name and have each day’s poem be for or about a Black woman who’d been killed by the police. I broke my own heart every day writing those poems, and I didn’t make it through the full month.

Part of me wants to stick with the pantoum this year. It’s an interesting form and I have the feeling I’ve got more of them in me. I don’t imagine that I can put myself through another Say Her Name month, however. It’s just too painful. There are, however, plenty more women to write about. And, too, I didn’t think I did Eleanor Bumpurs justice. Hers was my April 1st poem (this is an “of course” for anyone who knows me). The first poems of the new form are always my roughest, and I always thought I’d go back to her, end the month with her.

I’m undecided. There are, after all, so many other forms to explore. It seems … lazy almost to stick with the same form two years in a row. I did that with the arun, though. We’ll see.

I wonder if we’ll still be socially distancing and self-isolating come April. Seems likely the answer will be yes. Maybe more yes then than it is now. And I wonder if that will make a difference in the feel or quality of what I write, if my writing will see claustrophobic somehow. I guess we’ll see about that, too.

I’m not totally decided. I’m still looking around at other forms, but that pantoum is calling my name just now.

What are you planning for National Poetry Month? How do you celebrate? Do you write a poem a day? Do you make sure to have a poem in your pocket? Do you post your favorite poems on your blog or FB page? Are you already planning your month … or are you marveling at how nerdy I am to be thinking this hard about this so many weeks before the fact?

It’s March, which means it’s time for the
13th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Curious? Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!

Original Slicer - GirlGriot

10 thoughts on “Pondering the Pantoum

  1. I have found a month of daily poems in April right behind the month of daily slices, on top of all the other writing I do is in a word EXHAUSTING. I have not made it through all of April yet, and the longer or more intricate the form, the less likely a month will be completed. And no, it is not nerdy to pre-game. I started in February thinking IF I want to mentally wreck myself yet again this year and try. Of course I also say this to myself every year and yet when April 1st arrived I’ve posted.
    See you in 17 days? 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t even think past today, much less into April, so I loved reading about your thoughtfulness. I think it sounds so interesting to explore one poetry form all month. You kind of make me want to try it. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading, Natasha! The idea of writing one form over and over came from a workshop I took years ago with Sonia Sanchez (that was a dream!). She talked about doing that with haiku, doing that with the rhyme royal. She wrote for far longer than a month. I’m not a poet (or I wasn’t when I started writing all this poetry), so I figured the 30 days of April would be plenty for me. It’s been a fascinating exercise. Let me know if you try it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Cyndi

    Mmmmm, I can’t think of any suggestions about form, but how about a Say Their Names project on people working for justice and progress? Solutions journalism style. Stockton mayor Michael Tubbs and his “triple wall of mothers” is good example here: https://www.wnyc.org/shows/ted-radio-hour

    I’m glad a stubborn sense of justice brought me to Girl Griot – thank you for sharing your non-work work!


      1. Cyndi

        One day we’ll meet in person with big smiles, I hope. My intentions of justice and access seem to have been misinterpreted as one of those fires that ironically sparked (!) before water flowed through your leaky ceiling.

        Do you like the poem “Problems with Hurricanes” by any chance? 🙂


        1. Aha! Not a fire, not really. And yes, I hope once we’re no longer on lockdown, we’ll get to meet. I hope you’re taking good care through all the craziness — human, viral, and otherwise.


          1. Cyndi

            Thank you! Another Californian I forgot to suggest for an April of Say Their Names is Dr. Nadine Burke Harris. Her book The Deepest Well is soooo important, as is her work.


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