A Crown of Sonnets and Other Thematic Forms

I post on a site which hosts a NaPo forum.  64 people started a thread and of those 64, less than half are making it through with a poem a day.  I had one day where all I managed was an epigram, other day which was a single haiku, but at least I 2009Vietnam 908made it (or so I tell myself).  This will be my seventh NaPo (2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015).  Out of those, I completed 2005, 2012, 2014, and 2015.  I think that’s because I had a specific theme I focused on for the month.  2012 “brought” me this idea.  I’d just traveled to Southeast Asia for the first time.  We made it only as far as Vietnam before my husband fell ill and was hospitalized in Saigon.  Vietnam was an overwhelming sensual experience from the moment we arrived.  I completely surprised mysel f when I began writing April 1, 2012 by what came out.  I spent the next 30 days writing poetry about the trip.  I really had something to say.  Since then, I’ve tried to focus on a theme.

There are poetry forms which are developed around a single theme.  One of these is called “a crown of sonnets.”  This is a sequence of 15 sonnets around a single theme or focused towards a single person.  Wikipedia has a straightforward definition and is worth a read.  This would be an excellent exercise for someone who wanted to conquer a highly complex 2009Vietnam 883idea, or address a multi-character narrative poem.  The hyakushuuta is a form which consists of 100 tanka strung together.

With the last half of NaPo coming up, these would be two forms worth exploring if you’re running out of steam.  Think of them as a meditation on a single topic.

National Poetry Writing Month (NAPO)

April is nearly here and that’s the National Poetry Writing Month, or NaPo.  Organized in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets to celebrate poetry, one of the offshoots is National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo).  Started in 2003, the object of NaPoWriMo is to push the writer into working for thirty days straight on making new poetic work during the month of April.  That’s 30 days, 30 poems.

Here at Nettlesting, I won’t be sharing my drafts, but I will be sharing my ideas.  I’ve “done” NaPo several times now and have come away with at least two good chapbooks of poetry.  Not everything in April will have promise, but I’ve found that by sticking to a theme it gives me greater focus and I can build upon that focus over time.  But, like everything else, after NaPo I’ve got 30 drafts which need revision or just plain tossing, so to that point, I take a break and then buckle down and “git down to it” revising the works.  I try to get that done by November.

If you want to post your daily poem here as a comment here at Nettlesting, I’d love to see it.  Sharing that you’ve written a poem helps keep you on track.  There are poetry related sites which accept daily posts.  The links below are reference links, hopefully inspirational to keep you going during the drag of thirty days, thirty poems.

The Official Site:

Oulipost will have daily prompts / ideas

The Guardian’s website:

James Fenton’s Master Poetry Class

Ashley Lister’s 6th of the Month blog at ERWA’s blog

The Academy of American Poet’s Events

and their National Poetry Month

Read others’ work to egg you on.  Send me a link to your site if you’re blogging yours.


Other reference links which give you something to browse:
Bob’s Byway of poetic terms


Poetry Foundation’s Forms

Poetry Foundation’s Essays on Poetic Theory and check out their Learning Lab