The Sounds & the Fury…

I’m back. Although I didn’t write HERE on my Spring Break, I did write. And read a LOT. And submit poems to journals, which I haven’t done in quite some time. But after reading the round-up this week on Dave Bonta’s site, I have decided to embark on some sort of poetry endeavor for April.

Although I always fail at 30/30 attempts–this is not hyperbole, I mean ALWAYS–I decided to try something different. I am going to try to write something every day that plays with sound and tone – phrases, wordplay, etc. – and, in this way, I will free myself from the pressure to even make sense!

Somewhere, I truly cannot remember where, I was introduced to an exercise that I have already used both days of April so far. I will share it here in the hopes that it might give you some ideas about playing with sound.

  1. Start with a lengthy word that has a variety of letters. (I have used the words. ventriloquist, paraphernalia, hypersensitive, and inconsequential. You can use any word you choose!)
  2. Spend some time making a word bank of every word you can create from the letters in that long word. Three letters or more. You may only use a letter twice if it actually appears twice in the word.
  3. Once you have a substantial word bank, start to play with creating phrase combinations. Once you have a few that you like, see if you can use words on the list and other words that stay in that sound family to write a lyric or tone poem.

Last night, my husband gave me the word paraphernalia. My favorite phrases were: repel the leperthe bells peal, a panel of liars, the rapier’s rip.  I ended up with a draft that might be going in the direction of a “dark days” type of poem. Today with my students, we brainstormed a list from ventriloquist. My favorite phrase from that list was a quiver in the soil brings violets.

So I have a plan. Which may not come to fruition. But I am enjoying the music, nonetheless.


If you are looking for prompts for your 30/30, when I first started this blog seven years ago, I posted a prompt a week under the label The Poetry Tow Truck. That archive of 52 prompts can be found here – since it’s been so long, I may go back and try some of them again myself!

It’s the Big Poetry Giveaway – Again!


It’s that time of year again! With April comes National Poetry Month and the Big Poetry Giveaway.

This tradition, now in its fifth year, encourages poets and readers in the blogosphere to share their own work and the work of other poets by allowing readers to sign up in the comment section throughout the month of April and randomly choosing a winner at the end of the month. Head over to Kelli Agodon’s blog for more info on how this great event got started (and to sign up for the chance to win her wonderful book The Hourglass Museum.)

Here at Put Words Together; Meaning, I will be giving away a copy of my book A House of Many Windows (2013, Sundress Publications). If you have ever lost faith in what you thought were certainties, if you have ever felt betrayed by your own body, and if you are a mother or have a mother, you may find yourself in this book. I am so proud of it.

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My second giveaway book will be a copy of Necropolis by Jill Alexander Essbaum, a remarkable book of elegy that uses Biblical epigraphs and beliefs to wrestle with the complexity of emotions that accompany death. download


I know, I know, they both sound heavy. But believe me – even the darkest of subjects can hold a lyrical beauty in its boundaries. So leave a comment below if you want to be entered for the drawing – I will number you in order of response – and click on the link to Kelli’s blog above if you are interested in participating. Happy Poetry Month!

NaPoWriMo Rewind: Bad at Math

Yes, I know it’s day 17. And I am not having much luck keeping up with the poem-a-day. But I decided to do some revision work today, and I’m feeling much better about at least attempting to keep my mind occupied with poetry this month and keep the practice going.

So even though it’s day 17, I offer here Poems 10 and 11, one a very brief little nugget and the other a revision of a poem in a series I was working on earlier in the fall using titles from “Battle Hymn of the Republic” lyrics.

Day 10: “without you”

without you


a 19th-century tubercular

lung-clenched, linen-fisted

awaiting a waft of salt air


Day 11: Succor to the Brave

succor to the brave

you crawl across concrete, broken bottle

mosaic pressed into your knees, and

you bleed for me

and I am sick at the sight, heaving,

wailing while you suffer, still

you bleed for me

and I shrink from your shredded flesh,

your war-fresh stigmata, yet

you bleed for me.

I flinched as I poured the alcohol, first in

your wounds then into our mouths –

you bled for me

and I dabbed with my best tenderness

at the places you were broken and

you bled for me

and then I cradled your head and stroked

your hair, your mangled limbs in our bed  –

my God – how you bled.


just browsing, thanks

Some interesting finds from the past couple of days – hope you find something to strike your fancy.Also, watch the sidebar scroll here or follow me on Twitter (@djvorreyer) to read lines from the chapbooks my 7th grade students created this quarter. I will post this week, maybe next week while I’m on vacation, and then continue as long as I have lines to tweet.


Wonderful new poem “Inside the Balloon” at wicked alice by Jessica Ankeny.


A sad but true article on the state of teaching at The Educator’s Room – “The Exhaustion of the American Teacher.”


Daniel Wallace opens a conversation about the problems of modern poetry with Joshua Mehigan’s “Make Make it New New” article from Poetry Magazine over at The Incompetent Writer. Go weigh in…


And, of course, go to Susan Rich’s The Alchemist’s Kitchen to participate in The Big Poetry Giveaway – she has a running sidebar of all the bloggers who are giving away books. Including me!

The Big Poetry Giveaway is Coming!

Sorry I have been quiet as of late…the end of a quarter at school, the oppressive slate of grey skies, and my impending vacation with the wonderful husband have been occupying my mind and my time. But…it’s almost April and that means National Poetry Month. And that means….the Big Poetry Giveaway is here!

My Try Poetry Giveaway

Sponsored by Susan Rich this year, you can read all of the rules and ins and outs over at her post here. But the basics are:

  • You leave a comment on this post between April 1 and April 29.
  • I choose a random winner at the end of April.
  • I send you two poetry books: my first chapbook Womb/Seed/Fruit and a copy of T.A. Noonan’s The Bone Folders, a challenging and inventive collection that follows a coven of Louisiana witches through the death of their high priestess and uses math, programming language, mythology and experimental forms to create a unique reading experience that will challenge and delight you. (I have two copies – I would never give away my only one…)

If you haven’t been here before, let me introduce myself:

1. I blog here about writing and poetry, but I also have a website where you can learn more about me –

2. I have been a middle school teacher for 22 years and I am still relatively sane.

3. I love music, especially live music, and I sing and play the piano and the guitar.

4. I ran three half-marathons this year – run being a relative word. (I’m slow…)

5. If you bring me a Diet Coke, I will be your friend.

6. I have traveled to every continent except Antarctica.

7. I confess that I watch WAY too much television…although usually while multi-tasking and grading papers or lesson-planning or writing blog posts…like right now…I am watching The Walking Dead as I type.

So leave a comment! And win books! And visit Susan’s site to look for more blogs to visit!