#OctPoWriMo & #Writober Day 1: Surrender

I like the idea of surrender as giving in to each of these little butterflies

Welcome to the first day of October!


I woke up excited to get started on my first poem of October’s yearly poem-a-day challenge, and headed straight to the OctPoWriMo site. Though the heading on the Home page says “OctPoWriMo 2021”, the prompt is still the Day 31 prompt from last year. So, I had decisions to make.

I have been slowly working my way through In the Palm of Your Hand by Steve Kowit. It’s a great generative workshop in a book that includes revision in the process. I highly recommend it to everyone working on their poetry craft. I thought I could bring some of those prompt ideas into #OctPoWriMo, maybe put a spooky spin on them, but that didn’t feel right.

It’s week four of ModPo. ModPo is a free, interactive Modern & Contemporary American Poetry course/discussion offered online by the University of Pennsylvania through Coursera. The course focuses on close-reading and discussion of poems. There’s a live webcast every Wednesday. This week was mostly focused on Gertrude Stein. ModPo can be a large time commitment, and it would be nice to use the poets and poems studied and discussed as inspiration for generative work. I could do a Dadaist cut-up a la Tristan Tzara.

I’m also enjoying How Writers Write Poetry 2015, a free MOOC offered by the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. Session 2: Content and Form, focuses on sound and goes well with ModPo week four, so I may find myself making a lot of repetition and playing with sound.

However, all of those things are things I was already doing, and not #OctPoWriMo to me, so what to do?

Back in 2018, before the world of pandemic and sequestering and such, I was playing reunion shows with my band, The Rubber Maids, in New Orleans. I tried to do OctPoWriMo in my down time, but didn’t get very far. Since the focus of Experience Writing is revision this year, I thought I would revisit the OctPoWriMo prompts of 2018.

The Day 1 prompt in 2018 was Surrender. That feels like a good way to face this OctPoWriMo. Morgan was talking about surrendering to love and all its messiness, so I will surrender to my love of words, and poetry, and creating in all its ups and downs and mess; to the pleasure of the sounds, and rhythms I create, letting go of my obsessive need for meaning and understanding, if only for one poem a day.

Suggested form: free verse

In 2018 on day one, I wrote a poem called Callistemon. I like the lines at the end, so in the spirit of revision, I will start finding my sounds there, and yield to whatever comes.

To Whatever Comes

I yield, I will yield, yielding
to bliss, a kiss of mist
peeled feelings come to being
fizz blitz, bubble, tumbles, bumbles
then fizzles, puzzling the quickness
am I fickle? My sickle swings
back to beginnings with abandon
coming undone
craving raving, not saving
unbuttoned, loose
sluice then juice
slather and lather longer
I yield, I will yield, yielding
to blissful song longer
ignoring boring inklings of wrong
gone the gong, the hook,
the harm and alarm, I
entrust this thrust of
crispy crust to crumble
to dust in my lust
to wield all the words
this word sword salad
whirls now in the world
swirled, swirling
I do not resist, but go
under, give in, give up
succumb, submit, surrender

Feel free to link to your OctPoWriMo poems in the comments. I look forward to hearing how you’re approaching the challenge this year.


As I mentioned in my post, Thinking About #Writober, I’m doing things a little differently this year. I looked back through all my years of #Writober and the image and microstory that resonated with me today is from October 22, 2020. The image is “Lost” by Alex Timmermans and this was my microstory:

The stranger arrived with the fall, leading a wild boar by a sheer scarf. They approached silently from the thick wood to the east, as if they did not possess enough weight to crunch a dry leaf. Yet everywhere they walked, trouble became too heavy to bear.

~Maria L. Berg

The image and story reminded me of a time I was taking a walk in the woods and a man passed me going the opposite direction with a shovel in a wheelbarrow. Today, I thought, what if the strange man with the wheelbarrow passed the man with the wild boar?

I think there are the makings of an interesting, spooky story there, so my tentative plan is to do some research and brainstorming tomorrow, develop the characters on Sunday, come up with an outline on Monday and draft the rest of the week.

This is the first time I’ve tried Writober this way, so the main point is to have fun and be flexible.

I hope you’ll join me in writing some spooky stories for Writober and tell me about them in the comments.

Happy Reading and Writing!

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