April is the cruellest month for poets.
It is National Poetry Writing Month (often shortened to NaPoWriMo, or sometimes just NaPo), which takes place every year throughout the month of April. Each day a prompt appears on the NaPoWriMo website, and poets throughout the world are invited to take up the challenge and post their efforts on their blogs. The latter probably calls for far more bravery than the actual writing.
I first did NaPo way back in 2013. Here is one such pathetic effort from that far-off time:
THE BALLADEUSE’S LAMENT
There once was a wannabe poet
whose verses were dire, sad to say.
Then one April, she found NaPoWriMo:
thirty days of a poem a day.
Each morning she looked at the website,
and in the available time
she grappled with form, structure, metre,
enjambement, content and rhyme.
‘Twas the twenty-fifth day of the challenge:
“Write a ballad” the task on the site,
but by bedtime she’d still written nothing
and her muse had retired for the night.
She woke up at three in the morning
with a wondrous idea in her head,
but she could not write down this great epic,
for alas she’d no pen by her bed.
Then sleep once again overcame her
and hijacked her poor addled brain.
On waking, her great inspiration
had vanished like snow in the rain.
And if this sad tale has a moral,
it is this: always be on your guard,
for if you let go of the moment
you’ll never succeed as a bard.
My original blog, which you can find here, even owes its title to poetry. Fans of Robert Browning (I’m sure there must be some of you out there) will probably recognise the sly reference to one of his best-known works. Here is an unashamed spoof of one of his others:
THE PIED PIPER OF LIMERICK
A town in a faraway nation
had a terrible rat infestation,
about which the mayor
appeared not to care
(to the townspeople’s rage and frustration).
The plague had become so acute
that the townsfolk were quite resolute:
“We must do something here!”
Then who should appear
but a man in a weird coloured suit.
“I see you’ve a problem,” said he.
“Now listen: if I guarantee
to dispose of your rats,
give me one thousand crowns. That’s
my fee.” Said the mayor, “I agree.”
The stranger, with fingers a-quiver,
piped a tune which made all the folk shiver.
But the hypnotic air
made the rats leave their lair
and leap to their deaths in the river.
Oh, great was the joy in the town!
Then the piper said “My thousand crowns?”
When the mayor, looking shifty,
just offered him fifty,
the piper’s smile turned to a frown.
He glared, strode out into the square,
and, raising his pipe in the air,
played another refrain.
The town’s children came
and followed him – Heaven knows where.
The mayor’s desperate pleas went in vain,
for the children were ne’er seen again.
So the lesson inferred
is “You must keep your word”
and to think otherwise is insane!
And finally, in homage to Shakespeare, here are two limericks based on Romeo & Juliet and Julius Caesar (which inspired my Ocelot novels The Ghostly Father and The Unkindest Cut of All respectively). My long-term aim is to produce a limerick for each of the Bard’s plays, but that is still very much a work in progress.
ROMEO & JULIET
Two households, one ongoing row;
sprogs meet and exchange true love vow.
Next day they are wed;
three days later, both dead.
Their tale makes me weep, even now.
A soothsayer (very astute)
tries to warn of impending dispute.
But though told to beware
Caesar claims not to care,
then he’s killed by a backstabbing Brute.
If you’re still with me, well done. Go and pour yourself a stiff drink.