Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Poems: Process and Challenge?

Is writing a poem so very different from writing a story or a novel?

When I'm working on a story, I feel immersed in my characters' lives, their problems, hopes, and dreams. Outlines, scaffolding, drafting, and rounds of revision occur as the story slowly develops.

When I write a poem, the whole process seems so different. I sink into a feeling, an image, perhaps a photograph -- or a poetry prompt -- and words begin to take shape.

I do write a poem, now and then. Each April, National Poetry Month challenges writers to write a poem a day -- for all 30 days! Last year, mostly because of Covid, I didn't participate. Somehow, this year, the world seems brighter. Here's a poem I wrote in April, 2021, for you to enjoy. 

Lessons from an Elephant

I'd rather be third
in a line of elephants
ambling somewhere
in that endless, grassy savanna,
or the next wet wadi
where I could roll in the warm mud
and not think about change.

Something about elephants
makes me calm.
Their eyes aslant,
their bodies slow to move,
their ears flutter and
their trunks wave
in a language of touch,
close to their companions or
to herd that little one.

I saw an elephant in Tanzania strip bark
from a tree with his expressive trunk
and lift his head to trumpet a warning.
They twist and rip grasses
from the land, as they follow each other,
a measured pace, close together
for protection, undulating across the land.

Never underestimate the creativity
or change that hunger brings.
In times of drought, those tusks
can dig the earth to find water.
Female elephants don't discriminate:
they mother any baby in their herd.
We could learn much from elephants,
though I'd rather not weigh up to ten tons.

"Elephants" by Alex Strachan (Pixabay)

April gives writers a chance to play with poetry. I hope you will check out the poetry prompts created by Robert Lee Brewer, of Writer's Digest fame. He posts a poetry prompt every day (PAD) for National Poetry Month, and you can check out his poetry prompts posted every Wednesday at Writer's Digest.  

Meanwhile, happy Wednesday. May your writing go well. 

Will you join me in April for National Poetry Month?


  1. This stunning, heartfelt poem put me right in the midst of the elephants. "Their trunks wave in a language of touch." What a beautiful description! I did not know that female elephants will mother any baby in the herd. Thank you for this LOVELY poem Beth!

    1. Thank you, Sandy, for your lovely comments. One of the reasons I like to write poetry now and then is because it takes me unexpected places and allows me to dig deeper into memory. Write on!