Written by Rownika Shrestha, Spoken Word Poet and Instructor
To celebrate April—The National Poetry Month—in a poetic way, Word Warriors have been organizing the 11:11 poetry challenge, which is an online poetry writing and sharing event since 2014. Starting from April 1, new prompts are posted on the Word Warrior’s Facebook group called Word Warriors: A Poetry Slam Group every day for the following 11 days. The group members, old or new, can participate in this challenge by posting their poems on respective prompts in any language with #eleven11poetrychallenge and finish it by the month of April.
As I had a history of not completing the challenge for the last two years, I was looking forward to it this year with an excitement and determination to finish it. For me, poetry usually comes out when the overwhelming feelings look for a release but writing on prompts has always been different as it pushes me to think beyond the box and change the stream of the topics from the ones I usually write on.
One of the Word Warriors Pramod Dai posted the prompts every day in the morning around 9 am despite his busy schedule, and every morning I found myself waiting for the prompt so I could start writing. As I too had a busy schedule, I wrote whenever I got a moment, be it while waiting for a bus or riding one, and even when I was walking, I was developing the ideas to write. It definitely puts you under pressure when you force yourself to write every day, but it also develops the habit of writing. This is also the time when you write most of your poems as there’s no rush of completing them other times.
As it is not just about writing exactly on the prompts but bending it to get a creative dimension as well, it was actually challenging. So I wrote and erased too many drafts until I ended up with the one that satisfied me. On those days, when I couldn’t write a long one, I just wrote a paragraph and posted it just to make sure that I’m not putting it off for another day. And about language, I let the language choose me rather than deciding firsthand what I wanted to write on. The one that fitted the best went with the flow itself. And that’s how I ended up with six poems in English and five poems in Nepali.
It’s always fun in challenging yourself with such challenges to keep the creative juices flowing.
This is the short poem I wrote on the ninth day of the challenge in response to a prompt that said: Write from the viewpoint of a cactus – what’s it like to live in the desert or have a prickly personality?
तिमी मरुभूमि को सिउँडी हौ कि के?
आफ्नो वरिपरि काँडा नै काँडा बेरेका छौ,
बोल्न खोज्दा नी शब्दले घोच्छौ,
सुन्न पर्ला भनेर कान थुन्छौ,
बाँच्नलाई शक्ति बचाउँदैछौ मसँग नबोली,
अश्रु पनि बहाउदैनौं त्यसले नै आफूलाई सिंचिन्त गरी,
र बाँच्न सिक्यौ रे त्यही मरूभूमिमा आजकल,
जहाँ छ चिप्लन्छ जीवन मुठ्ठीमा बाँधेको बालुवा सरि ।
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