Have you ever thought about memory? It's such an important tool in writing poetry, and yet we remember things without even realizing it. Every moment of every day, we're remembering our grocery lists, our tasks, but also the memories of emotion and love and wonder and fear. Memory gets us through our day.
Mary Oliver said the goal of revising is to write "memorably." So what makes a reader remember a poem? As children, we were taught to memorize poetry. But most readers usually only memorize poems they love as adults.
Read the whole article here . . .
Starting in May I’ll be doing a new poetry project on my Instagram.
#SerialKillerSummer is a series of erasure poems using found source text from famous murderers. I’ll be posting blackout poems (hopefully every day) that use the words of the creepiest, darkest, most rotten dirtbags and twist them. Erasure is the art of creating a poem from a found text by removing and cutting away words or blacking them out. What remains is an entirely new and original poem.
Why serial killers? Well, I’m a true crime junkie and I realized there are so many fascinating sources like interviews, court transcripts, manifestos, and other true crime found sources to work with. I got obsessed with how we can cut these killers down and get back at them for the lives they’ve taken. Manipulating their words is the best way I’ve found as an artist. My work is always interrogating the world we live in, shining a light in the darkest crevice.
Follow along on Instagram!
I've read a lot of writing prompts in my time, and they all suck. Seriously. What is with this “Write a poem about a man who finds a dog on the side of the road and then he brings it home and then it eats his shoe . . .” prompt bull-honkey? (Okay, I made that prompt up, but that’s how most of them sound.)
Read the full article here . . .
A Haiku Love Poem a Day
Last year in February I wrote 28 tiny love poems on post-its. Valentine’s Day is coming once again and I’ve once again decided to write a poem a day in February to celebrate. Last year I was surprised by how many people enjoyed my tiny poems. I guess there is something simple and sweet about the concept of love — and that translates well to short poems.
Read the full post here . . .
Hybrid poetry forms can be a powerful form of resistance. From Jerrod Schwarz’s erasure of Trump’s inaugural speech to Niina Pollari’s black outs of the N-400 citizenship form, contemporary poets are engaging with the world through text, creating new and challenging works of art. Heralded by the rise of the “Instapoet,” visual works are a way to take poetry one step further by crafting new forms and structures that often transcend the page.
In July, I'll be teaching a 4-week course online at the Poetry Barn on this very topic! We’ll study the forms of poetry that draw from outside sources and texts, learning how artists are reshaping the narrative of resistance and how to draw from news, media, canonical works, and other found texts to create our own work in conversation with the current world.
Click here to sign up for online workshop . . .
I am on the radio today reading poetry! If you're in Houston you can catch my segment in the 2019 edition of Voices and Verses on Houston Public Media. Click above to listen!
In this sound portrait, Walrath describes how she fell in love with poetry in high school, her love of the weird and her inspirations. She reads her poem, “Blue Cadillac.”
Oh, the way you sat in
the drive, taking it all up.
I climbed into your cool interior, sliding
across the widest, darkest navy seats
spread beyond me, beyond my vision.
They seemed to expand and dissolve
into a bright light on the driver’s side.
We drove, through endless lanes
of white picket fences, long green,
green lawns, the Texas sun staccato
in the trees, and it may be that I wore
an Easter Sunday dress, all laced in white,
and bows on my tights, or white slumping socks
above black buckle shoes shining with polish.
And in the heat of a Texas summer,
how you could swallow me up
in your blue dusty smell, that
sweet sweet tobacco tucked
into the glove compartment
beside a lady’s silver lighter.
For the sun merely seemed
to enclose you, a line of gold
light above the leather dash.
But the very roundness of you, round seats
and silver knobs and panels like porthole
windows into another time, but mostly
the round, stitched-leather steering wheel
which was surely made for white driving gloves.
And somehow in this memory of you,
your massive lines like some primordial
behemoth long since dead and buried in
ice, the very blueness of you, I may have
remembered myself, another classic beauty.
This poem was published in my chapbook, Glimmerglass Girl.
I have a new poem up today at Mirror Dance called Farewell Dead Men. I also talk about why fantasy is a genre I love:
While science fiction is based in science, mystery is based in the pursuit of a question, and horror is based in evoking an emotion of fear, I believe that fantasy is the only genre which is purely pulled from the author’s deepest dreams and imaginings. The ability to dream up fantastical beasts and worlds seems to me to be a peculiarity of the human condition—one that even the most mundane of minds can learn to cultivate. Where did the idea for a dragon first come from or the hero myth? They are deeply ingrained paths that we continue to walk, following our ancestors through the mists of imagination.
Read my poem "Farewell Dead Men" here . . .
NaPoWriMo Day 29
This one has a pretty dark message, but I think it was just reflective of how I was feeling that day, after dealing with a lot of people.
Sometimes people aren't perfect, and that's okay.
This is the last #NaPoWriMo post. I didn't get as many poems as I wanted written this year, but I think it was still a fun month of poetry. I'm working on promo for my chapbook, which is exciting but also a lot of work. So I'm still getting things done even if I'm not writing every day. It's fun to play around and see where my poems are evolving or even backsliding. If you want to read more of my stuff, follow me on Instagram.
NaPoWriMo Day 28
NaPoWriMo Day 27
NaPoWriMo Day 26
NaPoWriMo Day 24
I was traveling over the last two weeks so I didn't get a chance to upload my #NaPoWriMo pieces. While I'm traveling, I find it easiest to make short poems that I can write on my phone. I find poetry everywhere, it seems. This one I wrote while on the train into San Francisco. What compelled me to this topic, I've no idea.
NaPoWriMo Day 19
NaPoWriMo Day 16
NaPoWriMo Day 14 & 15
NaPoWriMo Day 13
NaPoWriMo Day 12
This is the beginning of a pantoum poem with repeating lines. My NaPoWriMo stuff always seems to go to a dark place, or maybe that’s my natural inclination.
NaPoWriMo Day 8, 9, & 10
i got a bit behind on NaPoWriMo in the past few days because LIFE and also the release of my latest chapbook, forgive me for I am not a robot. Wish I were. Anywho here is one complete haiku and two other snippets from things I’m playing around with. I love haiku because it’s such an ancient form but it’s also fun to stretch and play around with, to break the form.
NaPoWriMo Day 6 + 7
Wrote two poems today to play catch-up. Above is inspired by a line from a poem by Ursula K. Le Guin, “Twilight was a Sound of Water”
Sometimes I write tiny poem-like creatures like this snippet. They are mostly wandering stray thoughts.
NaPoWriMo Day 5
I’ve been playing around with Instagram lately, adding images to photo. It’s fun to try out. This one was inspired by Blade Runner and K’s Baseline test.
NaPoWriMo Day 4
This is a short piece that’s part of a larger chapbook of Very Small Poems I’ve been working on. The violence here is an extension of my own struggles with depression and violent thought patterns.
Day 3 of NaPoWriMo
For this poem, I was struggling to get something down. So I picked up the New York Times in my coffee shop and made a found poem using phrases from articles.
I like the result. It’s a fun method to break out of my normal phrasing.
NaPoWriMo Day 2
one of the reasons I like doing poetry challenges like #NaPoWriMo is that it shows we’re all human. This one has all kinds of scratch outs but it will get revised later and be awesome, I can just feel it sizzling.
NaPoWriMo Day 1
I’m posting this late due to the fact that my schedule is basically insane right now. Enjoy this creepy ode to Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl.
last day of NaPoWriMo! I didn't get to post this yesterday so I'm posting today. I'll probably take a break now and write more stories. Happy May Day and happy spring to you! Poets, keep writing!
About the Author
Holly Lyn Walrath is a freelance editor and author of poetry, flash fiction, and short fiction. Find her on Twitter @HollyLynWalrath
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