Can you write a poem-a-day for 30 days?

If you want to participate in the April poetry writing challenge, there are lots of good ways to go about it. You can start by learning more about the process at, which I found via Chris Jarmick’s blog, Poetry Is Everything. Our Washington State Poet Laureate, Elizabeth Austen, is also blogging a writing prompt per day this month.

Last year I wrote my one-bad-poem per day on the blog (just click on April 2014 in my index, if you want to see the results), but this year I thought rather than sharing my badness with you, I’d share a favorite, short poem each day. My goal is 30 poets in 30 days.

This gem is by Philip Larkin (1922-1985), a poet I always thought was a little too thoroughly modern (read, “pessimistic”) for me. Then, reading Structure & Surprise, I came across “The Mower,” which I fell immediately in love with. “The Mower” reminds me of all the small, beautiful things we should be responsible for, and neglect. It reminds me of things I’ve done–big and small–that can’t be undone. I love how utterly, utterly simple this poem is, just recounting a small chore, a small loss, but then how it lifts out of that loss to make a statement about all loss.

The Mower

The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.

-Philip Larkin

8 replies
  1. chrisjarmick
    chrisjarmick says:

    Excellent choice! Larkin has written some truly exceptional poems. I think for the record, you should still write a poem a day anyway….good exercise and there’s sometimes more than fool’s gold in the effort! Thanks for mention… I’ll certainly return the favor soon! Keep writing!

  2. Jennifer Bullis
    Jennifer Bullis says:

    Bethany, I always look forward to your words, but thanks for sharing others’ this month. AND, I get to look forward to hearing you read your poems in person at Edmonds Book Shop on April 16!

  3. Alyson Indrunas
    Alyson Indrunas says:

    Love that Larkin poem.
    I will try, Bethany! I accept your poetry challenge. Most of them will be bad.

    Here’s day 1:

    Week one in eLearning, tickets, calls, and emails galore,
    makes me the grumpy frumpy bore.
    Alas, hope! Weekend invites to a hot spring from a friend.
    Week one, I beg thee to end.

    See? Awful. But I did it. Thanks, Bethany. I love your blog.

  4. terith
    terith says:

    Thanks for posting this poem, Bethany. I’ve been writing a (bad, bad) poem-a-day to kickstart my writing sessions, using daily emailed poems from as my inspiration. I checked into your blog’s April, 2014 posts and prompts, I’ll use some of those this month, thank you for the structured suggestions. Looking forward to your blog posts as well.


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