Good Sunday morning and welcome to my front porch for Sunday Morning Tea!
For the uninitiated, Sunday Morning Tea is my virtual writing salon, where we talk about our writing goals and projects while sipping on a hot cuppa tea!
The sun is out and shining bright, it’s the start of a new week, and I’m feeling refreshed, so green tea and all its antioxidant-supplying, disease-fighting, fat-burning, brain fog-clearing goodness is my beverage of choice today.
February is only three days away, and you know what that means, right?
Black Poetry Writing Month is back!
Black Poetry Writing Month (BlaPoWriMo) is a blogging event I started on my blog back in 2016 in honor of Black History Month and my love for poetry writing.
In fact, every February since I started this blog, I’ve tried to do something special to commemorate Black History Month because I love learning about all the accomplishments and victories of Black people throughout the eras, despite barriers and resistance from those in power (I’m talking to you, Florida).
As someone who studied African American literature in college (again, f*ck you, Ron DeSantis), I love sharing the works of the great writers and poets who have inspired me and shaped me into the writer and poet I am today: Paul Laurence Dunbar, Phillis Wheatley, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Toni Morrison, just to name a few.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been the best hostess for BlaPoWriMo. I’ve deleted several BlaPoWriMo-related posts in previous blog purges, thinking my blog was going in a different direction, only to regret it later. Some years, I’ve started the month-long challenge strong but fizzled out by week 2. I’ve been away from the blog for multiple years, missing BlaPoWriMo altogether, and I’ve suffered years of writer’s block.
I never intended for BlaPoWriMo to be a time when I sometimes write poems occasionally. When I check my blog insights, I see that every year since 2015 (when I posted a series of Black History Month vignettes), there is always an uptick in views in February, even when I’m not consistently posting anything. Search terms that have brought people to my blog include the following:
- 15th amendment (which granted Black men the right to vote)
- poetry prompts of black women
- poems about natural hair
- Gwendolyn Brooks poems
- Black History Month
- how to write a poem for the black community
- blacks and voting poems
- black poetry prompts
Obviously, there was a demand for the lessons I used to post every February, and I really hate myself for deleting those older posts. Call me selfish, but the last thing I want is for someone else to take over BlaPoWriMo as host because I’m so unreliable. I’ve actually been afraid to Google “Black Poetry Writing Month” for fear that I would see another blog claiming ownership.
But who “owns” BlaPoWriMo shouldn’t be that important to me, because what I really want is participation, so maybe I should stop my rambling and just tell you how you can participate, hmm?
The challenge is simple: write a poem a day during the month of February, also known as Black History Month. Draw inspiration from great Black poets from the past or present. Write about Black activists who inspired a nation, such as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Take a look back at significant events or moments in history, such as slavery, Jom Crow, or the Civil Rights Movement, or current events, such as Black Lives Matter and protests against police killings. If you’re not in America, explore the African diaspora in other parts of the world, such as the UK, the Caribbean, or South America, or look at the homeland itself.
While I recognize that many will feel that this is a challenge only Black poets can participate in, I welcome all people from all backgrounds to join. The abolitionist movement wasn’t led by only Black people and former slaves. The Civil Rights Movement wasn’t all Black. BLM isn’t all Black. We don’t only teach Black History in February to Black children in school. Despite what the racist idiot governor of Florida says, Black history IS American history. Why should BlaPoWriMo be any different?
So no, you don’t have to be Black to participate, but your poems must be related to Black History Month or have a theme of the Black experience or the experiences of people of African descent. Each day at 9AM EST, I’ll post my poem for the day, plus your optional prompt. You can use that poem and optional prompt or any of the topics already mentioned in this post to guide your quill. You can make your poems personal, write to a friend, or write to a figure in Black history. If an idea randomly pops into your head, for example, while you’re taking a shower, which always happens to me, go for it! Whatever inspires you!
If you would like to join on your blog, use the tag BlaPoWriMo so I can find you in the WordPress Reader. You can also use the “Black Poetry Writing Month” banner above or the “BlaPoWriMo” badge below to spread the word and let everyone know you’re a participant. And if you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #BlaPoWriMo to find other poems written for the month-long challenge and to get a retweet from me! You can also follow me on Twitter (@Nortina_Mariela).
I’ll see you in February!