Ten Minute Writing Prompts

Maybe it’s living in Michigan where the summers can be brief and the weather is unpredictable, but summers bring out the carpe diem in me. In addition to all the regular items on my to-do list, I am always snatching every chance I can to get outside in the sunshine, off to the lake, and into the woods. All this means that time is at a premium, but writing must happen regularly or I can’t call myself a writer anymore. So what’s an author to do? Even if it’s only ten minutes, if it is regular and thoughtful, it is better than nothing at all. So here are ten good ten minute prompts to get you thinking and working out your writing muscles, and still have time to enjoy summer!

  1. Find a beautiful scene, and describe it through action. Use as many verbs and adverbs as you can in ten minutes.  It’s best if you can actually go out and be present in the moment there, but a photo can work, too. Imagine or observe who or what lives there. How are its actions communicating the setting? If there is a child, are they laughing and splashing through the stream? Scowling after being scolded for her muddy escapades? If it’s a bird, is it singing joyfully, or warily watching the dog napping below its tree? Beautiful places are great. What happens there is what makes writing interesting.
  2. Spend ten minutes creating a character. You may or may never use this information later, but its excellent practice. Who are they? What drives them? Who/what is stopping them from getting what they want? What do they fear? What are their ideals? What are their flaws? You only have ten minutes, so don’t filter, do not edit. Just zip it on out. Try it every day for a week. You might come up with some  interesting and quirky side characters for your next story.
  3. Brainstorm as many plots as possible in ten minutes using the following format:  [blank] discovers [blank]. The cat discovers a crayfish. The Martian discovers ice cream. The toddler discovers the camera. Use these for further writing prompts later!
  4. Expand on your discoveries.  Take one of the possible plots from number three, and expand on it. Spend just ten minutes fleshing out a vignette describing each of the more promising discoveries.
  5. Imagine a vacation gone impossibly wrong.  Take the most perfectly planned vacation. A honeymoon, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a celebration. Plan out the itinerary. Now sabotage it. At every step along the way, insert some disaster. The plane is ridiculously delayed. Or crash lands in the wrong climate. An obsessive ex happens to be staying in the hotel room next door. The bus breaks down. In drug lord territory. How bad can it get?
  6. Play the eternal optimist. Take the vacation gone impossibly wrong, and create some twists that turn each stab into a surprise win. The plane is ridiculously delayed, which means your travelers get to see an event they thought they’d miss. They crash land in the wrong climate, but that forces them to take a hilarious shopping spree. The ex next door hits it off with your new love and is finally able to let go. Get creative!
  7. Write a haiku. Or ten. Remember, five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the last. Focus on one moment. The stark collection of images can tell a provocative story.

    Haiku by Richard Wright
  8. Ten minute tabloids. Tabloids take sensationalism to the extreme. Take a political view, extravagant lifestyle, or belief and push it to the most narrow, untempered boundary. What does that look like?
  9. Write up a tourist brochure for your hometown. What are the must-see locations? What’s the best restaurant in town? Best house to stay in if they offered it on VRBO? Places/people to avoid?
  10. Ghost Story Revamp. What was your favorite (or least favorite) campfire story as a kid? Take it and change the protagonist. Change the villain. See if you can give it a twist of humor or a shake of realism. See if you can come up with something even better than the original.

July Events

Looking for something to do this July? Well you’re in luck—here’s a list of 10 events in Michigan that every writer should try to attend this month! These events vary from book fests, to author meet and greets, book signings, and even some writer’s clubs that you might not have known about near you! If you’re worrying about the price tag that most writing events have, don’t fret, all ten of these events are free to attend!

July 11th – Kinsley – You are Never too Old to Dream
This is an author visit featuring Evelyn Harper, who shares her experience of becoming a published author in her later years, a truly inspiring story. Click the link for more information!
https://www.tadl.org/event/you-are-never-too-old-to-dream/

July 12th – Kalamazoo – Author visit with Lisa Jenn Bigelow
A meet and greet with author Lisa Jenn Bigelow, who is releasing her new book, “Drum Roll, Please.” Don’t miss this opportunity to meet her!
https://www.bookbugkalamazoo.com/event/lisa-jenn-bigelow-presents-drum-roll-please

July 14th – Southfield – Book Signing; “This is Kindness”
Meet Richard Patterson, check out his new book, “This is Kindness,” and get your copy signed! See the link for more information!
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/book-signing-this-is-the-kindness-tickets-46159890475?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

July 15th – Detroit – Bookfest
Detroit’s 2nd annual festival of books! With tons of book vendors, food, and free Wi-Fi, how can you say no? An amazing event to connect with others who love reading and writing just as much as you!
http://detroitbookfest.com/event-details-facts/

July 16th – Ann Arbor – Lillian Li on Publishing Your First Novel
Lillian Li presents her experience with all the ups and downs of writing, editing, and publishing her book, “Number One Chinese Restaurant.” Find out more through the link!
https://www.meetup.com/Write-On-Ann-Arbor/events/251263341/

July 17th – Bay City – Creative Writing Workshop
Strengthen your writing using prompts and conversing with others! See The Bay Community Writing Center’s website for more information and events!
http://baycommunitywc.weebly.com/

July 18th – Dearborn – Author Talk by Suzanne Dalton
Dearborn local author Suzanne Dalton speaks about her book, “A Year Lost, a Life Gained: Fighting Breast Cancer with Wit, Humor, Friends, and a Perky Poodle.” More details through the link!
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/author-talk-by-suzanne-dalton-tickets-47125653097?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

July 25th – Battle Creek – Battle Creek’s Writer’s Block
Have your writing critiqued and discuss a variety of topics at this writing group! Click the link for more info!
https://www.meetup.com/Battle-Creek-Writers-Block-Meetup/events/252163545/

July 26th – Royal Oak – Book and Bottle Club
Looking for something different? Then maybe you should look into this book club! Besides, what goes better than books and wine? Find out more through the link!
http://detroit.carpediem.cd/events/6867846-book-bottle-club-royal-oak-at-michigan-by-the-bottle-tasting-room-royal-oak/

July 28th – Detroit – Writing Workshop Series
A great opportunity for all ages to improve their writing skills! For more information, check out their allevents.in post below!
https://allevents.in/michigan/writers-workshop/20002505899828

Don’t forget to tag us when you tell everyone what an awesome time you had! Didn’t see an event you know about near you? Comment and let us know about it! Have a great July everyone!

The Ruthless Side of Storytelling

Ira Glass is one of the most recognized voices in radio. He’s the man behind This American Life, which has landed no fewer than six Peabody Awards, among other accolades and nominations. Glass has spent the last 30 years of his career as reporter and host for numerous NPR programs and was nominated for an Emmy in Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming. He is known for his thoughtful, relatable stories and was acknowledged for setting the aesthetic standard for nonfiction programming in both radio and television when awarded the Edward R. Murrow award. What is it about Glass that captivates audiences so effectively? Let’s take a look at two undervalued bits of wisdom from this four-part interview shared on YouTube.

1.      Finding the Right Story

 

“Often the amount of time finding the decent story is more than the amount of time it takes to produce the story… if someone wants to do creative work, you have to set aside just as much time for the looking for stories.”

–Ira Glass

 

Did you hear that? Just as much time needs to be set aside for finding the story for TV or radio. Maybe not in exactly the same ratio, but this counsel is so relevant and necessary in the lives of so many writers, both fiction and nonfiction. It takes time to really find the right story to tell, and it’s important not to be discouraged every time you hit a dead end. That’s just the way this works! Ira admits, “between  half to one-third of everything we try, we go out, we get the tape, and then we kill it…I think that not enough gets said about the importance of abandoning crap.” I’d like to add that this time spent on odds and ends that don’t pan out is not time wasted. All of that work, every interview, paragraph, and character sketch is just making you better at what you do. It’s an essential part of the creative process.

 

“… failure is a big part of success… you’re going to run into a ton of stuff and it’s going to go nowhere, and you should be happy about that.”

–Ira Glass

 

Why would we be happy about that? Because it means we’re doing it right. You have this lightning bolt idea, but toss it around, do the research, spend some time on it, and ultimately realize there are some key flaws and it’s not going to take shape the way you need it to. It’s okay to let that idea die! There’s a reason the age-old adage, “kill your darlings,” never goes away. It’s just a fact of creating good art. The key is knowing when to quit. Stop shoving effort into a blah story. Be encouraged by those discarded scraps of Not Quite. They are freeing you up to pursue something much better. Just keep looking, keep showing up and doing the work and you will be on the road to creating something special.

 

“You will be fierce. You will be a warrior. And you will make things you know in your heart aren’t as good as you want them to be. And you will just make one after the other.”

–Ira Glass

 

2.     Ruthless Editing

 

“You have to be, like a killer about getting rid of the boring parts and getting right to the parts that are getting to your heart, and you have to be, you know, just ruthless if anything is going to be good.”

– Ira Glass

 

You’ve found the right story to tell? Fantastic! Don’t hang up your machete. The savage work has just begun. Create and stitch and solder together your anecdotes, reflections, and revelations. Then get brutal. You will have to make tough choices about what needs to be there, and what is a distraction.

 

“Things that are really good are good because people are being really, really tough, and you’re going to be really tough.”

–Ira Glass

 

Evaluate the purpose and power of each part of your manuscript, and if in doubt, cut it out. Read it again. Does something new stand out? It is surprising how much impact is made when you’ve left only what’s most meaningful. If it’s causing your work to lose focus or spin off kilter, it’s got to go. It can be hard to see your work objectively, which is why I recommend letting it rest before diving in with the carving knife. If despite all this you know you’ve got a story, you’ve cut what you could but still aren’t satisfied; consider hiring an editor to point out the areas that need work.

 

“You don’t want to be making mediocre stuff… that’s not why anyone gets into this. The only reason why you want to do this is because you want to make something that’s really memorable…”

–Ira Glass

 

Author Spotlight: Brett Petersen (Video)

Brett Petersen was our very first client here at The LetterWorks, and fourteen of the pieces we’ve edited for him have been published or accepted for publication as of this posting! In addition to being a writer, he is also a musician and visual artist.

Brett and Josh sat down for a freewheeling conversation about what inspires him, his process and artistic hierarchy, goals, Star Wars, and… Hanson? Watch now, and scroll down for links to his stories and music!

Short Fiction:

CAVO
The Parasite From Proto-Space
Friday Tradition
A Free Ride to Pleroma
Inanimate Object Fibromatosis & Asbestos Leprosy
The Epic Quest of the Three ARMS
The Light in the Sky
Billy-Sally
The Summoning of the Memory Eaters
The Funeral Machine
The Walrus Who Touched the Sun
Ca-Caw
Sleep is One of Those Luxuries
Crystal Donut World
Cats and Dogs: A Bildungsroman for the Post-Post-Post-Modern Age
Javi and Bobby
The Labyrinth & the Jingling Keys

Music:

Raziel’s Tree
Brett Solo

The Writer’s Bullet Journal: Do & Done

The bullet journal is a DIY paper planner beloved of many writers. Popularized by Ryder Carroll, this analog system features: 

  • an index
  • to-do lists: each task is assigned a bullet point
  • collections” of related ideas e.g. a reading or fitness log
  • task migration, or review.

The average bullet journalist is constantly refining their system and I’m no exception. Here’s a new addition to my bullet journal: Do & Done.

  1. Reserve the “Do” list for appointments or priority tasks.
  2. Fill in the “Done” list daily with anything you achieved or completed.
  3. That’s it!

Above you can see my bullet journal for Week 19. On the left are my appointments and errands for that May week. The “Do” column is a typical planner view and many people stop there. However, in Week 19 I also reflected every evening on what I had actually accomplished and made those entries under “Done.” This created a mindset of “What can I achieve tomorrow?” So mythological research on Monday led to a freewriting session on Tuesday and a scene outline on Wednesday. Brainstorming character motives on Friday led me to tweak the story arcs for the heroine and her antagonists over the weekend. Not bad for a week where I had planned to do no writing at all.

Writing is a solitary job and motivating oneself can be difficult. Therefore it’s really important to record your daily wins and personal milestones. The Do & Done tracks your progress through the week, inspiring you to continue a creative cycle of work. Don’t break the chain!

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into one writer’s bullet journal. For more inspiration, search Pinterest and Instagram to see what other writers choose to record in their “BuJo” notebooks.

Further Reading

Ryder Carroll: https://www.bulletjournal.com/

Kim Alvarez’s reference guide: https://www.tinyrayofsunshine.com/blog/bullet-journal-reference-guide

Reader Request: How do you clear your head to write?

We love the comments we receive from our readers and occasionally are asked really great questions that deserve an entire blog post to adequately answer. Thank you for your comments!

 

One of our wonderful readers recently lamented:

“I truly do enjoy writing, however, it just seems like the first 10-15 minutes tend to be wasted just trying to figure out how to begin.”

How do you center yourself and clear your head for writing? Great question! First off, I have to say, “you are not alone!” In fact, the best writers I know intentionally spend those initial writing moments something other than the work at hand.

One time-honored method for waking your muse is to dedicate those 10-15 minutes (and more) to a writing prompt or creative challenge. Don’t try to write for your official assignment or creative project yet. Just write. Here are some suggestions:

 

Set a timer. Do not stop writing. That’s it! This is called freewriting. It is a stream-of-consciousness, totally does NOT matter what you write or how you write it exercise that is destined for the trash. It’s a method invented in the late 60’s, early 70’s that’s still used today because it works. One study showed that freewriting significantly improved English fluency amongst ESL students’ writing samples as well as bolstering their confidence in the language. Something about releasing that need for control over every comma enables the brain to tap into that lusher landscape of language needed for quality writing. So “waste” those 10-15 minutes with gusto! Even if all you are writing the first time around is, “I have no idea what to write and this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever tried…” keep at it. I’ve occasionally salvaged some interesting phrases that have emerged from freewriting exercises. But that is NOT the purpose. You aren’t writing for anyone or anything. You are just writing. And writing. And writing.

 

Tune in. Close your eyes for a moment and focus in on all that you feel, hear, and smell. Open your eyes and write it all down. Get every detail. Every hum, every rhythm, capture it the best way you can. If you still have time, choose a corner or space to describe visually in great detail. You are warming up your mind with rich vocabulary and practiced perceptions.

 

Zoom out. Start small. Focus on a detail. A fly on a machine. Zoom out to see the room where it rests. Who else is there? Now what about the building? Keep zooming out to take in the big picture. Show an entire town. A society. A world.

 

Josh’s recent post offers some more great prompts to get your creative gears engaged!

It may seem counterintuitive, but I am sure you will find that allowing your mind to wander along its own paths first will help it settle down to the writing you would like to see. My article on Writer’s Block also shares several proven tips for clearing the head and getting ready to move forward in your writing when it has come to a dead standstill. Best wishes and we’d love to hear how these suggestions have worked for you!

 

 

Grease Your Gears: Writing Prompts!

Grease your gears with these writing prompts!

Feeling stuck? Here are a few prompts to lube your brain cogs!

 

  • Pick two of your favorite (or least favorite) animals from anywhere on Earth and write them down. Now compose a fable involving those animals using each of their specific natural traits, á la Aesop.

 

  • Take an indisputable scientific truth, such as gravity, that humans can’t breathe underwater, the nutritional value of rocks, etc… Once you have decided upon your basic truth, change it! How would the world look and operate with this steadfast rule rewritten? How will your characters take advantage of, or be hindered by this change?

 

  • Think of an irrational fear, such as fear of spiders, dentists, or those weird roots growing on the potatoes you’ve had a little too long, and write a day in the life of a character who is governed by this specific fear. The more outlandish, the better!

 

  • Write a letter to a fictional character or historical figure as though you were old friends. Reminisce on an old adventure or plot a new one, apologize for a misdeed or demand an apology from them, congratulate them on a major event in their life and fill them in on some of your own. Be as straight-laced or absurd as you’d like and see where it leads!

 

  • Your protagonist is awash in conspiracy theories. They spend every free moment contemplating, researching, and rationalizing the most absurd claims. One evening, they check the news and find one of their wildest theories is proven to be true… now what?
Now get out there and sling some words!

Your Editor is not the Bad Guy

 

Red ink bleeds across the page. Hard questions scrawled down the margins. Rewrite this whole passage? Really? Sometimes confronting your work after a thorough edit can be as daunting as running into Darth Vader in a dark alley.

 

“Editing might be a bloody trade, but knives aren’t the exclusive property of butchers. Surgeons use them too.” – Blake Morrison

 

Your Han Solo self might not think your beloved Millennium Falcon is in any need of repair, but you can’t see the entire ship from the cockpit. Here’s the thing: our minds see and feel the whole picture, and it’s incredibly important to recognize the many mini-jumps your brain makes when reading your own text that will be impossible for the reader to replicate. You know the protagonist inside and out, and it can be challenging to see where you’ve misled readers by providing incomplete or inaccurate information. You know it’s supposed to say, “He dashed over the log…” and your brain may not flag you that it actually says, “He dashes over the leg…” because it already knows what it should be. That’s what your editor is there for! Even the best of the best need editors, which is why the acknowledgements of practically every book published are practically gushing with gratitude for their editors!

 

Patrick Ness advises, “Learn to take criticism. Your first draft won’t be perfect, and it’s damaging to the book to think that it is. Every great book you’ve ever read has been rewritten a dozen times. This is the hardest thing to learn (trust me), but very, very important.”

 

A good editor will jump at light speed on issues with story arc and continuity in a developmental edit, or search with the uncanny precision of a Jedi for errant language in a line edit. The purpose of it all is to make your work the best it can be. At The LetterWorks you’ll find some of the most encouraging and gentle editing services out there, but they also strive for a letter-perfect edit. All the editors are authors themselves and fully understand the incredible honor it is to be entrusted with your younglings! It is precisely for that reason a manuscript may come back with some serious work to be thoughtfully considered and executed.

To reach publication, sometimes to even be considered for publication, your manuscript needs to reach a certain caliber. Even a vigorous plant is sometimes in need of some pruning to really let it shine and flourish. So take courage, and take up that pen. Let your editor be your ally.

May the “fourth” be with you.

 

 

Putting Poetry into Motion by Melissa Heiselt

As National Poetry Month comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on the art and its significance in my journey to become a better writer, and ultimately a better editor.

Poetry is often considered to be the inaccessible literary art form, and is arguably one of the most difficult to get right. In 2011, we experienced a resurgence in the popularity of art’s most unpopular medium. Poetry featured in publications like The Moth, and Button Poetry flooding the digital world of Facebook and YouTube with engaging narratives, brought it back to pop culture in a way that I wouldn’t have suspected as a closet-poet teen. I was always told back then to focus on more “practical” writing endeavors, grow up and let the poet die. Here’s why everyone was wrong.

Poetry is a powerful practice for mental health. Researchers from the University of Liverpool investigated the effect of poetry on the brain, and their findings published in 2015 suggest that poetry strengthens the mind in ways little else can. The flexible thinking and agility required to extract multiple meanings from Wordsworth’s “She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways” employ the same mental gymnastics we perform when navigating the unexpected in our daily lives. The National Association of Poetry Therapy embraces a body of research reaching back to the early 1920’s as basis for their therapeutic work. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith says, “Poetry invites us to listen to other perspectives, and to care about others who may not look, sound, or think like ourselves.” Embrace poetry, whether through sound, sight, or action and see what it does for you.

Poetry is built to evoke emotion, a sense of place, and presents abstract thoughts in a tangible way. These are effects every writer seeks to draw out as they write a narrative, whether fact or fiction. Take for example the way Carl Sandburg brings us, in just a few words, to a specific moment that inspires memories of a thousand of our own meaningful moments:

 

“See the trees lean to the wind’s way of learning.
See the dirt of the hills shape to the water’s way of learning.
See the lift of it all go by the way the biggest wind and the strongest water want it.”

~ Carl Sandburg, Landscape ~

 

Studying and putting into practice what you learn can improve your writing by orders of magnitude. Poetry is the practice of paring down your words until only the most necessary and meaningful remains. Catherine is fond of quoting Antoine de Saint-Exupery who once said, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” I whole-heartedly agree, and no exercise is more effective in sorting that out than the writing of poetry.

The study and practice of poetry compels a writer to focus on word choice in a very detailed way. You consider things like assonance, which hones in on the vowel sounds within the words you’ve strung together; and alliteration, which refers to sentences or phrases with the same beginning sound. Consider that Carl Sandberg poem again. The concrete images, paired with metaphor, dressed in nothing but rhythmic repetition, a little alliteration, and assonance make it powerful. These devices are put to good use by talented authors for more than just poetry. They create music within any text and can evoke a sense of mood without being overtly… “rhymey.” (Yes, I just made that word up.) Take a look at this excerpt from Ursula K. LeGuin’s “A Wizard of Earthsea“:

 

“Years and distances, stars and candles, water and wind and wizardry, the craft in a man’s hand and the wisdom in a tree’s root: they all arise together.”

~ Ursula K. LeGuin, A Wizard of Earthsea ~

 

Notice the repeated word pairings, coupled with how the “S” and “W” sounds chase and echo each other? It seems to amplify the meaning of her words creating this flow and feeling of natural growth extending into eternity.

Last of all, poetry is practical. We see poetry all around us without noticing… a child’s picture book, your favorite song on the radio, a meaningful greeting card, and catchy ad jingles … it’s enhancing the messages in our lives all the time. Just because it isn’t flowery and old doesn’t mean it isn’t poetry. So you don’t see yourself taking up a job as an ad writer. That’s okay. Neither do I! It still brings value to your life, and especially your writing. And if you, like me, are a closet poet, take out that old notebook and add to it as part of your regular writing habit. Maybe you won’t publish an anthology of your own… and perhaps you will. Either way, the practice of appreciating and writing poetry itself will do wonders for every other form of literary prose you choose to write. So whether you want to become a great journalist, fiction writer, or biographer, I encourage you to nourish that inner poet. She just may feed you back.

To the Poets! by Catherine Foster

 

It’s April! What does that mean to the writing community the world over? Unfortunately, not necessarily a warming trend in the weather (I speak for the Midwest region of the United States in particular, which is encased in ice at present), but something far more important: an annual celebration of poets and poetry! That’s right: April is known as APAD (April Poem A Day), APAD (A Poem A Day) or even the impressive NaGloPoWriMo (National/Global Poetry Writing Month), but whatever you choose to call it, the idea behind the titles are all the same. We’re coming together to support the sometimes overlooked cornerstones of our writing community and give them the attention they so richly deserve.

You might be thinking that I chose a strange metaphor. How can a cornerstone be overlooked? How are poets cornerstones at all? They are usually characterized as whimsical, artistic and freethinking. This may the case, but true poets have an understanding of diction and syntax that allows them to play with language in a way that other writers can’t. Prose writers are restricted by rules of grammar, while poets are able to create sounds and even language to suit their purpose. Edgar Allan Poe and Dr. Seuss made new words that eventually became an enduring part of our lexicon even today.  However, gifted poets are not without their own limitations. They must understand the rules, particularly if they are constructing a delicate verse such as a haiku or a highly refined ghazal. To walk within the strictest boundaries of language to create an excess of emotion in the reader is a talent that takes a lifetime to cultivate. To be a successful poet takes diligence, patience, education, talent and creativity. These are the qualities of accomplished writers, as well, but because a poem is emotion pared to its finest element and every word must earn its way, the poet is the cornerstone of excellent literature. They inspire and they show us how language can be devastating or beautiful, by turns.  The pursuit of such a gift in these talented populations is what we celebrate each April. To all poets and their accomplishments out there, we at The LetterWorks salute you!

There are some places that have an organized an effort to lead an APAD participation group. Here are a links to a few of the more notable ones with rules and subcategories:

Writer’s Digest, April Poem-A-Day Challenge:

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-genre/poetry/poem-a-day

 

The Writer’s Dig:

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/april-is-poetry-month-ready-for-our-poem-a-day-challenge

 

Poetic Asides:

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/2012-april-pad-challenge-guidelines

 

A poem a day in April:

http://april-is.tumblr.com/tagged/signup

 

The Poetry Foundation:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/podcasts/76608/april

 

Whether you participate formally by joining a group in the style of NaNoWriMo or if you just increase your awareness and appreciation for the form by reading a poem in April, it’s a matter of celebrating this art form. There are so many styles of poems out there to suit every reader. Some of us have been conditioned by our years in school to consider poetry a stuffy and boring relic of the past. That can be true—for some. In my personal experience, I had a comprehensive education of the Fireside poets (Longfellow, Cullen Bryant, Emerson, etc.), which ignited my interest but may have dulled someone else’s. For every Emily Dickinson, there’s a Maya Angelou. For every Robert Frost, there’s an Ntozake Shange. For every Shakespeare, there’s a Shel Silverstein. This is a time of renewed vigor for so many new poets; it’s a revolution. You don’t have to be educated in this form to appreciate it, so don’t be intimidated! The great beauty of poetry is that it just has to make you feel; a successful poet will touch your soul with a few well-written verses. This April, come join us in celebrating by writing or reading a new or favorite poem today!