What is SoloPoMo?

SoloPoMo is my way of celebrating National Poetry Month, which falls a month before SoloPoMo. (More on that — um — later.) During SoloPoMo, I write about a single poem (or write because of the poem or in spite of the poem or just to spite it or bait it) off and on all May.  I did it last year with Charles Wright’s poem “Images from the Kingdom of Things” from his 2006 volume Scar Tissue, and it was a lot of fun.  I actually blogged every day for a month for the first and only time in my life.

Dave Bonta at ViaNegativa is also in his second year of his somewhat different approach to celebrating National Poetry Month.  Instead of reading one poem during May, as I do, he reads approximately 1,200 in April.  Each day that month he reads and blogs about an entire book of poetry.  Despite the dissimilarities in our approaches, I credit Dave (and my contrarian streak) with inspiring my own approach.

This project has other signs of being uniquely mine besides its being late — a month late — from the get-go and being derivative of another, more talented person’s better idea.   It’s also overly ambitious (trust me on this one).  My early exuberance may be my eventual downfall, too — another hallmark of my projects.  If I follow through on this, many of my posts will be short.  I have a lot of schoolwork this month.

I don’t know which approach you’d find more challenging — Dave’s or mine.  Dave, though, is encouraging his readers who may not have the time or inclination to take on his personal poemload to read and write about only four volumes of poetry in April.

Despite my apprehensions — and unlike Dave — I’m offering no watered-down version of SoloPoMo.  My own SoloPo this year is Robert Lowell’s poem “Eye and Tooth” from his 1964 book For the Union Dead. If you’d like to join me in practicing SoloPoMo in May, email me or leave a post comment with the poem you intend to dwell in for the month and, if you’re blogging about it, a link to any evidence of that dwelling. (I’m at peter at slowreads dot com.) I’ll put your name, your poem, and your link on slowreads’s home page all May.

I’m even starting early because I originally planned to hold SoloPoMo contemporaneously with National Poetry Month this year, and I have some material. I’m late for April, but I should be well into the poem by the time May rolls around.


    1. Kevin! Hey! That’s cool! I wrote a letter to a student in your class about how to get into poetry. Some of it applies just to her (the specific poets I name), but some of it applies to anybody. The link is here:


      I think you’d enjoy memorizing one. Haul it around on a card or an iPod or something and glance at it between things. Then amaze and annoy your friends, as I’ve made a habit of doing!

      (But going to college to figure out how the world works? The better the college, the less likely you’ll get any help along those lines! But that’s just my idea of college — as impractical as I am. There are all kinds of colleges just as there are all kinds of poems, fortunately . . .)

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