How to Write a Poem in 2021 by Carol A. Stephen (HOW TO Series)

My poem appearing on Silver Birch Press on my birthday! What’s better than that! Carol

Silver Birch Press

writing-2005How to Write a Poem in 2021
by Carol A. Stephen

Ten a.m. Sit at your desk, assemble writing tools.
Start computer. Don’t write yet. First,
check fourteen emails and five unrelated subject links.

Time for coffee, tea if you prefer.
Sit at your desk. Play two computer games.
Make it three. Oh, just one more for luck.

Search computer for a prompt. Send an email
telling your friend how you have writer’s block.
Bathroom break. Sit at your desk.

Make a list of words to include in a poem.
Ten words. Strike out five. Add another ten.
Lunch break.

Sit at your desk. Read through other poets’ poems
for inspiration. Gaze out the window, check the weather.
Write a line.

Aha! We’re getting somewhere! But— it’s now 5 p.m.
Spend 15 minutes writing. Sign your poem.
Done for today.

PAINTING: Writing by Zhang Xiaogang (2005).


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Poetry Challenge Coming Up in April 2020

Olivetti Lettera 22

It’s been almost a year since my last post, a year of challenges and health issues. My role with CAA-NCR, providing monthly lists of writing opportunities came to an end June 2019.  As I have been improving health-wise, I’ve also been pondering what to do about Quillfyre.  I do have a new book, which hasn’t been added yet, Winning the Lottery, about surviving Clostridium Difficile (C. Diff.) and life with an ostomy.  Ok, so that wasn’t fun.

What is fun is writing poetry. And April is coming, National/Global Poetry Month. I plan to take part in one or perhaps more, of the 30-day challenges, and will be posting poems here.  I hope you will join me, either by reading my attempts at the challenges, or by writing your own. Even better, do both!

And check out (how about signing up?) at the NaPoWriMo site here:


NaPoWriMo 2018 Two Sylvias Press april 20, 2018

Ah, to write about a secret and share it. Well, I can’t think of anything I am keeping secret that I can tell about, except perhaps one that I don’t know the answer to:


Family Secret

It isn’t my secret. It might be
my father’s. Perhaps his mother knew.
Born to one surname, married under another.
What happened in the years between?

Did it change when he was small?
Perhaps he never knew at all?
Am I a Swaebe? Or am I a Pfahl?

Did she change it or did he?
Why all the mystery?

All that so many years ago.
I suppose now I’ll never know.

Carol A. Stephen (nee Swaebe)
April 20, 2018

Swaebe is pronounced with a long a, silent e’s.  Swayb.

Pfahl, as far as I know, has a silent P and h  FAWL

NaPoWriMo 2018 Two Sylvias Press April 19, 2018

In each line of a 10 line poem use two words that mean the opposite of each other. This one was tough, because of the limitation of line length and the constraint of 10 lines.  Not my best effort. Trying to catch up does not attract the best words onto the page!

Winding Down

Days I think I’m crazy, the only thing that keeps me sane
is playing crazy eights, the start, stop and start again play
as each takes turns winning everything or nothing,
bitter losses, sweet rewards.

Wide awake when I start, sometimes I nod off, asleep sitting upright,
the outer me with closed eyes, while the inner me still plots strategy.
When I go to bed on ice cold sheets, I fire up the mattress heater,
look to the clear sky for stars, or check a red-cloudy sky for snow.
Near the river, I hear the geese, far off an owl hoots once then silent.
Nature sleeps in deep shadow in the park, near the shallow end of the pond.

Carol A. Stephen
April 19, 2018