Doesn’t a summer poetry challenge sound like a good idea?
It sounded like a good idea to me, somewhere back in January—somewhere long, long ago, when the summer of 2020 was supposed to be just like any other ordinary summer.
I tend to do my blog planning in big chunks. If I didn’t, I’d either be posting the same things over and over again—or I wouldn’t be posting at all! So somewhere, way back at the beginning of the year, I sat down and I charted out my nice orderly plan of what I figured my year was going to look like.
My prospective year, all laid out prettily in a multi-column spreadsheet, was a year that didn’t have a lot of things. It was a year that didn’t have epidemics. It was a year that didn’t have masks. It was a year that didn’t have cancelling, or postponing, or altering the way we live our ordinary lives. But oddly enough, through a sudden impulse as I was jotting down possible topics and titles—it was a year that included the word CHALLENGE.
The 2020 Summer Poetry Challenge
The truth of the matter is, when the first idea of a summer challenge popped into my head, I was kind of visualizing myself as being the one who gave the challenge. You know, “This summer, I’M challenging you to achieve . . .” Something. Something to do with poetry, presumably. After all, it was in the title.
But as we stand here today, each one of us knows we have already had our summer challenge. Some of us may be looking back, on a challenge already overcome. Some of us may be looking forward, into an unknown—maybe a frightening—challenge of the future.
So rather than creating a new challenge for you today, I am simply offering the opportunity to turn the challenge you have already had into something beautiful and lasting—something that can be a blessing to both yourself and others. I’m asking you to take your challenge and to turn it into a poem.
Capturing Your Challenge in a GOOD Poem
First and foremost, whatever your personal challenge has looked like this summer, I’m calling you to distill it into a poem that brings glory to God. There is obviously no patent process for doing that, but five checkpoints that we at SAW Publishing developed last fall, and have found to be helpful benchmarks are:
1) Does this poem preserve the reader’s innocence regarding evil?
2) Does this poem actively promote good?
3) Is this poem spiritually challenging?
4) Does this poem promote a healthy view of life?
5) Does this poem honour God?
Some of those criteria are going to present special difficulties of their own when you apply them to capturing a real-life challenge in poetry. I believe it is possible! I also believe your poem will be stronger and more powerful as a result.
Capturing Your Challenge in a GREAT Poem
As we have discussed so many times before, the impact of a spiritually GOOD poem is hugely multiplied when that poem is also GREAT from a literary perspective. Our five checkpoints for greatness are:
1) Does this poem have accurate rhyme?
2) Does this poem have accurate metre?
3) Are the ideas and verses well balanced?
4) Do the ideas contain elements of originality?
5) Does the expression contain elements of originality?
I recognize the fact that not all of these concepts are well-defined in a single sentence. For a more detailed look at the meaning behind each question see last fall’s post: How to Grade Poetry Part Two.
Our Summer Poetry Challenge 2020
I am a person who loves order, and regularity, and predictability. My family always laughs at me for complaining, “It wasn’t what I expected!” And yet, undeniably, it’s a phrase that does a good job of describing this summer. 2020 has been in many ways an unexpected year.
But does that mean it is a year that can’t leave us a legacy of blessing?
If you have experienced the challenges of this unexpected summer—then you have something to write about! And my summer poetry challenge is a call to you, personally, to do just that!
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments in the section below.
If you are interested in exploring the concept of good and great poetry a little further, see our previous post:
You might also enjoy:
- Watercress: A FREE Short Story from SAW Publishing
- Sing for Joy: Pilot Program Opportunity