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Hello, poets! Welcome to dVerse and welcome to January. I hope you’ve started this new year well.

As 2021 begins, I have volunteered to lead a walking and writing group in my local town. We’re walking because we can stay socially distanced that way, and the plan is to share poems and other writing and to look for inspiration on the way. As part of my preparation, I’ve been reading various books on the “craft” of writing poetry, and I thought this prompt would be a good way to share something of what I’ve learned with my dVerse tribe.

The first bit of advice that has come up in everything I’ve read is to read lots of poetry. If you’re a dVerse regular, you’re ahead of the game here. If you read all (or even some) of the poems linked up to Mr Linky, you’re already reading a lot of poems a month. If you’re new to dVerse, welcome! – and look forward to reading a huge variety of contemporary poetry right here.

Kate Clanchy is a well-respected UK poetry coach. She’s done a lot of work with adults and children, including under-represented groups such as refugees. In “How to Grow your own Poem” she describes writing poetry as being “part of a conversation”. She points out that if you’re only reading, say, 19th century poets, you will be having your conversation with them. You will be limiting yourself unnecessarily.

One of the great strengths of dVerse is the great variety of work here. We have poets from all over the world. We have poets who regularly write forms, and poets who prefer free verse. We have city poets, country poets, men, women, old and young. We are as diverse as our name implies. And we are having a poetry conversation with each other and with all the other poets we read and are influenced by, and bring here through our writing.

For this prompt, I’d like to make that conversation manifest. I’d like you to look back over the last year and choose a poem that calls to you, and write a response to that.

How does a poem call to us? For me, it may be the subject matter. It may be a poet who does something technically well (alliteration, enjambment, hidden rhymes), a technique that maybe I feel less confident about. It may be that a poem has a form that attracts me, or a playfulness with shape or grammar or words, or a sudden twist that moves me. Or it may just be a feeling, an atmosphere, something I find hard to define. There may be other things that call to you.

Photo by Nandhu Kumar on Pexels.com

Some poems affect us by making us wince or making us cringe. They may have a subject matter that we find difficult, or language that we find unpleasant or disgusting. We may not like the poem. I think it is important to reflect on what it is we don’t like – our subconscious may be trying very hard to tell us something – but let’s keep today’s conversation celebratory. Choose a poem that pulls up good stuff.

This is your task for this prompt:

  1. Choose a poem that calls to you. Choose something you’ve read over the last year – maybe from dVerse, but you can take a poem from elsewhere if you prefer.
  2. Write a poem in response.
  3. Post your poem, and either the original poem or a link to it, so that your readers can see the conversation manifested.
  4. If you like, you can explain what it was that attracted you to the original poem, and how you’ve responded to it.
  5. Link up to Mr Linky – he’s open for 48 hours.