Progressive Poem/National Poetry Month

Happy National Poetry Month! I’ve admired the progressive poem tradition as a reader for many years. I’m pleased that I was at the right blog at the right time this year to get to sign up and participate.

Before I get to the progressive poem, I’m taking a National-Poetry-Month moment to say “Yay, poetry!” Many poets write a poem-a-day this month. (Go, poets!) I’ve done that in Februarys with my online poetry group for eight-and-a-half years (the half because one year I wrote every other day). That practice, along with writing poetry in general, has given me many gifts. Writing poetry helps me remember significant events, novel thoughts, and stunning sensory experiences. Writing poetry also helps me process events that are hard to get my mind (or heart) around. The practice of writing poetry improves my writing in general. And I haven’t even touched on the inspiration in reading poetry. Happy National Poetry Month—read ’em, write ’em, enjoy!

The Progressive Poem 2022 graphic: A photo of an open datebook, on a desk with pink carnations in a jar and the words, Progressive Poem 2022.

Irene Latham began this year’s progressive poem with a line from a book. Others followed, though some have worked with lines from poems and movie soundtracks. So far, the poem is a sort of cento (“sort of” because a cento usually uses lines from poems—I wrote a cento based on poems for children for National Poetry Month in 2015).

Here is the 2022 Progressive Poem as of April 13, with my newly added line at its end:

Where they were going there were no maps. (1 Irene)

“Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not today.” (2 Donna)

Take the adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes! (3 Catherine)

“We have to go back. I forgot something.” (4 Mary Lee)

It’s spring, and the world is puddle-wonderful, we’ll whistle and dance and set off on our way. (5 Buffy)

“Come with me, and you’ll be in a land of pure imagination.” (6 Linda M.)

Wherever you go, take your hopes, pack your dreams, and never forget—it is on our journeys that discoveries are made. (7 Kim)

And then it was time for singing. (8 Rose)

Can you sing with all the voices of the mountain, paint with all the colors of the wind, freewheeling through an endless diamond sky? (9 Carol)

Suddenly, they stopped and realized they weren’t the only ones singing. (10 Linda B.)

Listen, a chattering of monkeys! Let’s smell the dawn and taste the moonlight, we’ll watch it all spread out before us. (11 Janet)

The moon is slicing through the sky. We whisper to the tree, tap on the trunk, imagine it feeling our sound. (12 Jone)

Clouds of blue-winged swallows, rain from up the mountain, (13 Karin)

The sources of the lines are:

  1. The Imaginaries: Little Scraps of Larger Stories, by Emily Winfield Martin
  2. The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien
  3. The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
  4. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
  5. inspired by “[in Just-]” by E. E. Cummings
  6. “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  7. Maybe by Kobi Yamada
  8. Sarah, Plain, and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
  9. inspired by Disney songs “A Whole New World” from Aladdin and “Colors of the Wind” form Pocahontes
  10. The Other Way to Listen by Byrd Baylor
  11. adapted from Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman
  12. adapted from The Magical Imperfect by Chris Baron
  13. adapted from On the Same Day in March by Marilyn Singer
Cover of the picture book On the Same Day in March. Shows scenes of penguins on snow; people, camels, and goats in the Savannah; and people rowing a long boat in an jungle river.

My son and I both have March birthdays, so On the Same Day in March: A Tour of the World’s Weather, by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Frané Lessac, has been a treasure for many reasons. I love the way Marilyn Singer uses poetic language to give readers a tangible sense of how people all over the world have a wide variety of weather experiences on a single day.

The text I chose for my line in the progressive poem comes from the spread on Xian, China, which asks, “What will the wind carry today? / Clouds of blue-winged swallows, / dust that hurts their eyes, / rain from up the mountain, / kites shaped like butterflies?” When I wondered where to go from the monkeys, moon, and tree in the previous lines of the progressive poem, flocks of birds came to mind. The abundance and movement of those swallows fit right into the poem’s story. And I imagined the mountain rain, two lines later, slicing through the sky along with the moon in Jone’s line and bringing out the smells of dawn in Janet’s line. Where will Denise take us next?

You can read the poets’ posts about the 2022 Progressive Poem at these blogs:

1 Irene at Live Your Poem
2 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
3 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
4 Mary Lee at A(nother) Year of Reading
5 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
6 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise 
7 Kim Johnson at Common Threads
8 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
11 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
12 Jone at Jone Rush MacCulloch
13 Karin Fisher-Golton at Still in Awe Blog
14 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
15 Carol Labuzzetta @ The Apples in my Orchard
16 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
17 Ruth at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken Town
18 Patricia at Reverie
19 Christie at Wondering and Wandering
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Kevin at Dog Trax
22 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
23 Leigh Anne at A Day in the Life
24 Marcie Atkins
25 Marilyn Garcia
26 JoAnn Early Macken
27 Janice at Salt City Verse
28 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
29 Karen Eastlund at Karen’s Got a Blog
30 Michelle Kogan Painting, Illustration, & Writing

This entry was posted in creativity, Karin's poetry, others' poetry, uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Progressive Poem/National Poetry Month

  1. That sounds like a delightful book, Karin. I will pop up to our library and see if we have it. I do love a “cloud of swallows” (a flight or gulp, if you can believe it!) up in the sky. Just lovely.

  2. rosecappelli says:

    I love the line you chose, Karin! All the nature references in this poem are so beautiful. I’m a fan of Marilyn Singer’s work, but I don’t know On the Same Day in March. Will definitely look it up. Thank you!

  3. Great add, Karin — I was not familiar with Marilyn Singer’s poetry besides her whimsical Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems, so you’ve given me two gifts today: our growing poem and another wonderful poet to investigate. Thank you!

  4. Love the image of the swallows, and wonder if they’ll continue on…

  5. lindabaie says:

    I love the language you chose from Singer’s book, Karin, & enjoyed your notes at the end about the personal connection and the book itself. I know many of her books, but this is a new one so thanks for that, too!

  6. Interesting how everyone has their own ways of coming up with their lines. And this is a good one, well done!

  7. Elisabeth says:

    I’m enjoying reading this poem, and hearing about the selection process of each participant. Thanks for sharing yours with us today.

  8. Karen, I enjoyed reading about your process and what inspired you to pick the piece of work that paid homage to the month of March. Your line definitely creates an image – just what all good poetry should do! Thanks!

  9. cvarsalona says:

    Karin, rain from up the mountain is such a descriptive line. I can imagine the flock of swallows sweeping across. It was interesting reading about your process. What’s next? this poem is so creative, just like pieces of a quilt.

  10. Denise Krebs says:

    Karin, I enjoyed tag teaming with your line for the progressive poem. It is fun to see where it is going. Your blue-winged swallows really paint a picture.

  11. Lovely images! What a lush environment we’re in….

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