An April Poetry Project #WritingwithWoolf #NaPoWriMo

It’s April, and that means it’s time to write poetry. I had some trouble this year deciding what I wanted to do. Join a challenge? Design my own project? Follow the day’s whimsy? I found myself drawn to several different poetry projects, but the one I couldn’t stop thinking about was Christie Wyman’s Thoreauly Inspired. Here is Christie’s explanation:

Each day during April, I will write a poem-ish piece inspired by a word or phrase mined from the pages of Henry David Thoreau’s jewel-laden journals. I have left my challenge open so that the poems may take any form — haiku, free verse, borrowed line, blackout –and who knows which direction they will go in.

I’ve never read Thoreau’s journals, so I knew that reading Thoreau carefully and deeply this month and responding through poetry wasn’t quite what I was looking for. But an open challenge to write “poem-ish pieces” grounded in a close, slow reading of a personally significant text sounded exactly right.

And I knew immediately which writer and which book I would like to return to for inspiration. Virginia Woolf’s Diaries, specifically Volume 3, which begins in 1925 with the publication of Mrs. Dalloway.

I began rereading last night, anxious that I wouldn’t find anything that made me feel poem-ish, anxious that what spoke to me in my 20s wouldn’t matter to me at all now, more than two decades later. But there she is describing her friend Jacques Ravaret’s death, and I felt both poem-ish and like I needed to copy the entire passage into my notebook.

Day #1: Found Poem Haiku

someone stepping out–
unfinished sentence on lips
–into the darkness





9 responses to “An April Poetry Project #WritingwithWoolf #NaPoWriMo”

  1. Unwrithings Avatar

    Love Virginia Woolf – took a whole class on her in college so many years ago. Can’t wait to see what you write!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      it’s been so many years since I’ve read Woolf. I’m curious what the experience of returning to her diaries will be like.

  2. Wondering and Wandering Avatar

    Perfect project! And would you believe there is a copy of To The Lighthouse sitting right next to me on the couch? Small world!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Ha! I have just gotten to the part of the diary where she is beginning to create To the Lighthouse–having the initial image and concept and then “writing in her head” as she’s doing other things. It’s fascinating to see the process.

      1. Wondering and Wandering Avatar

        Yes, process is fascinating.

  3. Leigh Anne Eck Avatar
    Leigh Anne Eck

    Very nice. I love the line “unfinished sentence on lips.” You and Christie both are tackling huge challenges! Wow, I am impressed.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I find it so much easier to think of poems if I have some kind of constraint. And it’s interesting to read a few pages of the diary, looking for something–word, sentence, image–that suggests a poem.

  4. Akilah Avatar

    Oh, this is such a great idea!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m enjoying it so far!

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