NaPoWriMo Day Seven: Rosemary Riepma – Book recommendations

It’s day seven. We’re already one week into NaPoWriMo. Maybe the poems you’ve written so far aren’t your best or you might be a day or two behind but keep going with today’s prompt from Rosemary Riepma. She shows you how to write a recommendation for a book (or film, TV programme, piece of music etc.) in the form of an acrostic. See below for her explanation of this prompt and how she developed her poem Regenesis.

Regenesis 1

Right to life belongs to 
Growing enough food for all is
Nowhere near enough can grow in old ways.
Extra planets are not a luxury we have.
Something drastic must change
If people and free creatures are to thrive:
Stop subsidising slaughter!

Regenesis 2

Ridiculous to think that things will stay
Exactly as we thought they used to be!
Growth limiting, this doesn’t find a way
Each living thing could flourish and be free.
New ways of growing food will have to come.
Entrenched opinions surely have to shift,
Surprise us, rearrange our sense of home.
Inspired cooperation may yet lift
Systemic brokenness into new life.

I started by reading a book and wanting lots more people to read it. You could also use in a similar way a TV programme or film you think could do with being widely watched, or a news article that needs more awareness and discussion. That alone might be enough to inspire a heartfelt poem. I needed something to help me focus my thoughts and get me started writing. I needed a tool to help me narrow down what I wanted to share into a much more concise message. 

I started by writing the title of the book vertically to set out an acrostic poem. Starting each line with one of the letters in the title, I tried to communicate something of the book’s message.  (Regenesis 1) If you want to try this and your book or programme title is very long, you might want to think of a word which summarises the content, and use that for your acrostic.

I wanted to carry on playing with the words and concepts, and to make something that would be easier to read aloud. I still wanted some sort of framework, because sometimes adding some tighter rules can squeeze different thoughts out of my head. I chose iambic pentameter because it fits the English language well (What’s good enough for Shakespeare is good enough for me), and I added in alternate rhymes at the end of the lines. (Regenesis 2). 

If you want a simple rhyme scheme to play with in an acrostic, you could do rhyming couplets. You could have varying line lengths and not bother about any patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables, if you find that gives you more flexibility about content. I do think syllable-counted patterns are worth trying, though, because they force you to be more selective and to explore different ways of saying something.

Rosemary Riepma

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