Poetry Friday: Put Away Your Judgment Pen

It's Poetry Friday! Today's roundup is hosted by Linda Baie at Teacher Dance. Stop by for a breath of fresh of poetry air. 

Whew! Last month was busy as I wrote and posted a poem each day. I'm sure you all get it! When publishing a poem, each day is an act of vulnerability because you know you will have to post poems before they feel ready for the world. That being said, I needed the push to get a poem on paper every day and, it worked. (Though I use the word "poem" loosely. Ha!) 

Here's a quick list of April's National Poetry Month celebration highlights:

Three Things I Did

Collected Links on a Padlet: During National Poetry Month, I wanted to be able to collect the crumbs of discovery throughout the month so I decided to keep a Padlet of links. I wasn't quite as diligent as I had hoped, but I have a reasonable collection of nuggets. 

Supported Poetry Spaces: This year, I made sure to make contributions to the poetry spaces that I return to repeatedly. The Slowdown, Poets.org (Academy of American Poets), Ohio Poetry Association are among the spaces that not only inspire me daily, but also provide my daily dose of JOY.

Audio Poetry: Honestly, poets reading their poetry in audiobooks may be one of the most under appreciated gifts. At the beginning of every April, I find my way to the digital library to checkout audiobooks of poets reading their poetry books. Many of these books I own in print and love to follow along as they read. Here are a few of my favorites from this year: Billy Collins Live: A Performance at the Peter Norton Symphony Space, an all-time favorite), How to Love a Country (Richard Blanco), Dog Bones (Mary Oliver), An American Sunrise (Joy Harjo), We Inherit What the Fires Left (William Evans), and The Carrying (Ada Limón). I have to also mention here the daily poetry from The Slowdown Show, currently hosted by Major Jackson, and Poem-a-Day, April poems were selected by Poet Laureate Ada Limón

Three Things I Discovered

Maggie Smith: Seriously, Maggie is a gift that keeps on giving. I went with friends to see her speak as her new book, You Could Make This Place Beautiful, was released into the world and enjoyed hearing her talk about writing. After the event, I started to follow her on Instagram, which led me to podcasts where she was a guest, which led me to her Substack, For Dear Life, which I quickly decided to join. 

New Forms: Thanks to Margaret Simon and Molly for the calendar they created for National Poetry Month. It actually unexpectedly ended up shaping my poetry in April. I made blocks in my Passion Planner using some of their suggested forms and when I was stuck I would select a form to try for a poem. I left a few open blocks to add new forms I discovered along the way. This is a tool I will return to again and again. (I'm actually trying a similar format for techniques to help improve my revision process in May.) 

New Poets: Well, new to me. Seriously, if you attended Poetry and the Creative Mind, a gala sponsored by the American Academy of Poets you know what I mean when I say, "Wow!" Listening to guests read poetry was an absolute delight - and it really has raised the bar for how I even read poetry to myself. I discovered a few new-to-me poets here, as well as across the month of April. Here are a few that stand out: Maggie Smith (obviously), Saeed Jones (discovered him alongside Maggie at the Drexel), Beau Sia, and Rudy Francisco, to name a few. 

What's Next 

Poetry Friday: I plan to get back to posting with the Poetry Friday Community. Hopefully the poems you find in this space on Friday will have had some revision and feel a little more polished for the world. 

More Revision: Yep, this one! I know I really need to spend some time in the space of revision. Here are some of the techniques I plan to use in this process. Since the box collection of possibility worked so well with form, I thought I might give this a try to push me to diversify my revision decisions, hopefully thinking more about what a poem might need. 

Word Play: As I traveled around Poetry Friday posts I realized how impressive you all are with your words!!! I need a little word play in my life to improve word selection. I'm sure there will be more to come on this, but most of the ideas I have currently are from visiting the Poetry Friday roundups. 

That's all for now. Here's this week's poem: 


  1. Wow, Cathy, your post is so filled with varied ideas I will need to return to follow some of those leads. That first line of your poem is something all of us need to hold in our heads so we can press on to write from our hearts: "Stop judging the words" and I love the idea of an end with "a quilt of comfort". Although we do return & do some touch-ups, the setting down of what feels very like an end feels very good, as you wrote, a "comfort". I'll keep looking for your posts on PF!

  2. Cathy, your poem this week is a great one for what you are going to do with your revision over the next weeks. I think you have a great idea to use the "box collection of possibility"..."to diversify my revision decisions." Wonderful idea! All the best with the revisions.

  3. It was fun to read through all your thoughts on poetry, writing, NPM...I love the ending especially on the poem you shared!

  4. So many good thoughts here! Yes to not judging the words before they get down on paper!!! While digging up a garden bed this afternoon, I listened to Andy J. Pizza interview Maggie Smith on his podcast and wow it was packed full of goodness!!!!

  5. Thanks for the idea of poetry audio books! I listen to a lot of books but never thought about poetry. Your poem is full of great advice - stop weighing the words; just write.

  6. I love your practicality (your passion planner pages)! Even just those two words together says it all: Passion + Planner!! Your poem is a powerful call to action. Too often we stifle our own best efforts.

  7. Wow, your April was quite impressive! It's inspiring me to expand my poetry muscles (I rarely listen to audio books of any kind, but poetry might be one I should try!). I careened out of April with the poem-a-day pressure and want to return to a more normal pace. Your "Just write" poem is sage wisdom as I sit down this month and reconnect to my pen/paper. Thank you!


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