Today, April 1, marks the beginning of National Poetry Month. Poets and writers across the country are celebrating by planning a host of events and readings. (For anyone reading this that lives in the Los Angeles area, this is a cool list I found.) In a month that celebrates the respective birthdays/death-days of William Shakespeare and Miguel Cervantes (April 23), it seems a fitting month to celebrate verse. (On a side note, April 23 – El Día del Libro – is celebrated as a type of Valentine’s Day in Catalonia, Spain. On this day, women traditionally receive roses, while men are presented books as gifts. More on this later.)
It’s been years since I’ve written a poem, but it doesn’t mean that I, primarily a fiction writer, can’t celebrate along with all the cool kids. So, my challenge to myself is to write at least one page every day this month, without exception. Admittedly, I’ve been having trouble lately thinking of things to write, so I figured this was a great way to jump start the creative side of my brain.
Today is day one, and I chose an exercise inspired by Georges Perec’s An Attempt to Exhaust a Place in Paris. Perec, a member of the Oulipo group, sat in the Place Saint Sulpice in Paris and, over the course of a weekend, took painstaking notes at recording everything he saw.
It seemed like an interesting idea, so I did a similar exercise. I had to do laundry this afternoon, so I sat in a corner with my notebook and a pen. While my clothes was in the wash, I took notes on what I saw: a sad-looking white woman in a pink blouse staring at the washer as it spun; the hum of dryers in the background; the rattle of a car; the faroff cry of an infant. I wrote for about forty minutes, and when I was done, I had more than my required page. Whether or not I wind up using any of it in a story remains to be seen, but I have to admit that it felt wonderful to write again.