April 25, 2013


The Progressive Poem was conceived of by Irene Latham, instituted during last year's National Poetry Month, and now can be officially called "an annual event." This year's poem began on April 1 at The Poem Farm.

Today, I'm contributing my line to the 2013 Progressive Poem, and the pressure is on! My job is to write the first line of the concluding stanza. What direction should it go? Perhaps it's time to bring in the other member of the poetry team--the reader?

When you listen to your footsteps
the words become music and
the rhythm that you’re rapping gets your fingers tapping, too.
Your pen starts dancing across the page
a private pirouette, a solitary samba until
smiling, you’re beguiling as your love comes shining through.

Pause a moment in your dreaming, hear the whispers
of the words, one dancer to another, saying
Listen, that’s our cue! Mind your meter. Find your rhyme.
Ignore the trepidation while you jitterbug and jive.
Arm in arm, toe to toe, words begin to wiggle and flow
as your heart starts singing let your mind keep swinging

from life’s trapeze, like a clown on the breeze.
Swinging upside down, throw and catch new sounds–
Take a risk, try a trick; break a sweat: safety net?
Don’t check! You’re soaring and exploring,
dangle high, blood rush; spiral down, crowd hush–
limb-by-line-by-limb envision, pyramidic penned precision.

And if you should topple, if you should flop
if your meter takes a beating; your rhyme runs out of steam—
know this tumbling and fumbling is all part of the act,
so get up with a flourish. Your pencil’s still intact.
Snap those synapses! Feel the pulsing through your pen
Commit, measure by measure, to the coda’s cadence.

You've got them now--in the palm of your hand!

I hope I've left it ambiguous enough for our next poet, Robyn Hood Black. Take it away, Robyn!

Here's the complete list of participants:

1 Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
2 Joy Acey
3 Matt Forrest Esenwine
4 Jone MacCulloch
5 Doraine Bennett
6 Gayle Krause
7 Janet Fagal
8 Julie Larios
9 Carrie Finison
10 Linda Baie
11 Margaret Simon
12 Linda Kulp
13 Catherine Johnson
14 Heidi Mordhorst
15 Mary Lee Hahn
16 Liz Steinglass
17 Renee LaTulippe
18 Penny Klostermann
19 Irene Latham
20 Buffy Silverman
21 Tabatha Yeatts
22 Laura Shovan
23 Joanna Marple
24 Katya Czaja
25 Diane Mayr--you are HERE!
26 Robyn Hood Black
27 Ruth Hersey
28 Laura Purdie Salas
29 Denise Mortensen
30 April Halprin Wayland

If you'd like to read last year's Progressive Poem, click here.

1875 circus poster courtesy Library of Congress.


  1. Diane, I love the art and the thought of the reader! Well done. Excited to see what next!

  2. The Library of Congress has a great collection of old circus posters, you should browse through them!

  3. I have said this before: I love how the poem opened in a very private space -- dreaming and solitary -- and has shifted into the performance element of writing. I wonder whether we'll get to meet the audience before the poem's close.

  4. Moving on to what many think of, the audience! I love that old poster, too, Diane. Exciting line of anticipation!

  5. Thank you, Diane - though, truth be told my palm's a little sweaty at the thought of doing justice to our collaborative creation!

    Terrific line and love the poster.

  6. Diane, this is beautifully opened up, and I too like that you are looking outward to the audience!

  7. Thanks, everyone, for stopping by today! It was nice to get home from work and find all your comments. Robyn, the way I look at it, you do your best, and then leave it up to the next person to make a connection. The person who should really have sweaty palms is April, on the 30th. She has to tie it all together with one line. Oy!

  8. That's a great poster... and I like how you're turning towards the audience, too.

  9. Oh, this is just what a writer needs to hear to feel ready to go on! My inside writer is grateful for this joyful and encouraging line!

  10. Great job, and great idea to finally bring in the reader. That moment is always important for a writer.

  11. Thank you, all, for making this such a fun endeavor and following up the reading with your comments. We can write the lines, but without someone reading them, it's simply an exercise. Hurry over and read the complete poem here. See you all next NPM! Now on to May, which is National Barbecue Month!

  12. I'm running around catching up, and it's very good to know the audience, the readers, are with us as we head into the last stanza. Thanks for doing your part here, there and everywhere!

    1. And thanks, Heidi, to you, too! It was a fun month!