A Poem A Day by Dan Simpson
April is National Poetry Month, and to mark the occasion we asked poet and friend of Poplar Union, Dan Simpson, to write a few words about how he’s managing to keep creating in a time of lockdown.
The go-to line for poets at this point of the year is inevitably T. S. Eliot: “April is the cruelest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land”. And what a particularly cruel April this is, given the unsettling pandemic and resulting isolation. I have, though, been cultivating my own growth as a poet and practitioner in the locked-down landscape.
It’s the right time for it, too: it’s currently both National Poetry Month and NaPoWriMo – a challenge for people to write a new poem on each day of April. I have been slightly snarky about this on social media, given that I’ve set myself the task of doing this every. single. day. in. 2020. My snark came back to bite me though, as people hold me to account when I miss a daily poem and have to do double duty the day after.
“I’ve been finding inspiration in everyday life”
Between that, a little self discipline, and more than a few hastily-bashed together verses: so far I’ve managed it. I’ve been finding inspiration in everyday life: the odd expression, turn of phrase, or noticing something slightly out of the ordinary (easier, recently) can prompt an on-the-spot piece. Then there’s more thoughtful reflections on difficult experiences – leading me to developing a new voice in what feels like a less risky way. After all, it’s a daily poem: no one expects brilliance, right?!
I’m especially liking that low-pressure safety net at the moment. In a naturally scarier and more stressful world, doing ok is the new doing well. I try to engender this ethos and attitude in my new weekly free virtual poetry workshops. Originally trialled as a one-off at the start of lockdown, I’ve now got around 30 regulars Zooming in each week to write and share their words. It’s a lovely couple of hours for poets at all levels, and we laugh and appreciate each other a lot – both much needed whilst we isolate.
I hope that, in these bizarre times, you’re doing well – by doing ok.