There is no poem too long or too short that might catch at one’s sleeve or spark the shirttail with an image fiery enough to blaze in the chest, burning the heart down to something clear and clean and sharp as steel.
It’s that time again, April, National Poetry Month, and time for 30 in 30. I love this crazy exercise which makes my heart go all arrhythmic, skipping beats as I try not to skip a daily opportunity to become more aware, to read more poetry, and to write a poem a day for 30 days. This year, as if that weren’t enough to overlay my overwhelm, I’m adding sketching to the mix. That’s right, a sketch and a poem a day for 30 days.
While I’m doing that, I will also pack and prepare myself to fly to South Africa where I will remain for the entire second half of this exercise. I’m sure this sounds crazy to you, but it’s not as nuts as it seems. After all, I will be on a plane for 15 hours flying non-stop over a lot of ocean with little better to do than draw all the strangers surrounding me and write about my not-so-secret dread of crashing into a deep blue ocean from 35,000 feet high into perpetual darkness from some unknown time zone. I could finally find out if that darn floating seat really works. See all the good poem material, and that’s just getting to Jo’berg!
I have not found out who made up this insane exercise, but I would personally like to thank them. If I should happen not to read a poem from my long shelves of poetry for an entire season, I can no longer ignore them come April. If poetry seems to abandon me, (although I know it is I, shoving off in my busy little pirogue into a swamp of inattention) then April returns me to myself, challenging me to “..row your boat ashore, Halleluia!”
Finally, I make time for the important idleness that leads to a greater appreciation of life. Besides, it only looks like idleness to outsiders. To insiders, the mind is at its peak when it is emptied. It’s a koan, zen masters. I made it up, but you know what I’m saying. That’s why 15 hours of nothingness will be really good for me right in the middle of this exercise. It will also keep my mind occupied and off the poem I wrote on Earth Day last year called “Lost.” You can check it out in Notes on my FB page, where I posted last year’s 30 in 30.
I dare you to do this. Be the tomboy daring to leap from a cliff into the deep green waters of a forbidden quarry. Having jumped once, I must feel the chilling thrill of the fall once again. Only this time, I will add 30 sketches to the dare. Oh, don’t be amazed or impressed. This is my job, after all. Instead of willy-nilly as I am wont to do, April helps me see the value of practicing and appreciating creativity every single day. No matter who is visiting; no matter the garden needs weeding or the clothes must be hung on the line or the dogs fed. There is always something to do, and doing it as if each duty were a poem to be written or a sketch to be drawn, well, it makes us more alive. It makes us feel more alive. No lie.
Let the poetry begin! Let the tomes full of poems pile up beside the bed like towers of color and imagery! Life is waiting to leap from the page toward the heart in living color, in all its lion-ness, its passionate desire to become part of who we are and who we can be. A poem, an essay, a free write, a sketch. One a day for 30 days. You can do this. And if you think you can’t, read a poem a day for all of April. See if one of those poems doesn’t oxygenate something longing for breath in you. Then think of what writing one will do.