A poem a day for a year

A few years ago – during a year when I knew (because of my work schedule and serious illness in my family) I wouldn’t be writing very much – I committed to writing a poem a day for that year. It wasn’t easy. A lot of days I wrote a haiku or something equally short at the very end of the day – because I’d committed to it, I wouldn’t allow myself to sleep before I wrote a poem, even if it was a very short one.

I wrote 313 poems that year.

That year convinced me that I could write under any circumstances. That year convinced me that if I wrote every single day, I would see the world in terms of poetry. Every thing I saw turned into a poem, every step I took was a step into a different world. And when I look at those poems, I see how I got better, how I saw beauty in everything.

But now I think it’s not so much about writing, it’s about paying attention, focusing on what’s around you, on beauty, on pain, on life, on sorrow and joy – you don’t have to write to see the world this way. These poems are just what got me there.

I wrote this on November 8, it was poem #294 –

The trees glow in the sunlight
backlit, like a cinematographer
worked his magic on them,
more movie than real

When did that happen,
life becoming less real
than the movies?
Or is it just the way
we’ve always seen the world?

That looks like a da Vinci?
a Rembrandt?
a Van Gogh?
a Warhol?

Maybe we’ve always done this,
compared life to art and
found life wanting

I want to see those trees as
trees, real
roots and trunk and and
branches, real
leaves, dying and transforming
themselves into glorious
bright life.

Kate

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11 responses to “A poem a day for a year

  1. In my freshman year in college, my English professor had us maintain a daily diary. Each entry only had to be a page. It could be on anything and in any format, even a poem. The point was to show us how much easier writing became if it became a daily regimen. Also, to show us how much our entries improved over time.

    I’m sure you write as well as you do, in part because of that disciplined exercise.

    • Raymond – actually, for me, that exercise was more about learning to see the world than it was about writing – it started out about writing but ended up being up training my eye. I didn’t do any editing at all, but just wrote, but every single day (after about the second month) it got easier to find something to write a poem about – because there was something everywhere.

      Kate

      • On my first pass I read the post and skimmed the poem. Now, returning for a second time, I’ve read and reread what I should have at the outset, to myself, then aloud. Eventually, I saw the trees, was among them and amid the light. Thank you.

      • I did this with photos last year. It was so much fun and I caught myself studying things I normally wouldn’t look at to figure out how to take a photo of it. At times it was a challenge, but I’m really glad I did it.

  2. Beautiful Kate. I’ve only started to write poetry but really enjoy it, and I applaud your discipline to write one daily – couldn’t have been easy.
    eden

    • Thanks, eden – actually it was hell for the first couple of months and then it was easy (at least for most days) because I was in the habit.

      A couple of years ago, I did the same thing (for a month, rather than a year) with flash fiction. Wrote a story a day for a month – hard at the beginning, much easier at the end of the month.

      Kate

  3. Funny how we all view the world, looking at the same thing as everyone else, seeing it differently. They say art imitates life, and when we view art, like life, we all see it differently.

    I’m keeping this poem, for it’s beauty and what it teaches me.

    Thanks

    Wally

    • Thanks, Wally – that’s how I think about it, life imitates art, art imitates life – and we all see it differently and with the best art and the best lives, we see it universally.

      Wow, profound statement – sorry, don’t know where that came from 🙂

      Kate

  4. Kate, I love it. I believe poetry goes beyond its words, and that being a poet is as much about vision and connectedness as it is about putting verses to the page.

    Lisa

  5. Beautiful, Kate.

    I was taught once that everything in life is poetry. From the turn of the seasons to cooking a meal to cleaning the house.

  6. Raymond, thank you. Re-reading the book of poems (I’ll admit it, it was many years ago), I’m tempted to do it again. But I think this time I’ll pick a month, rather than a year! And I’m going to take a hint from Katy – and take a photograph as well.

    Kate

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