PAD Challenge Day 22: The Complex Poem

Robert Lee Brewer of Poetic Asides and Writers Digest gives this prompt for day 22 of the PAD (Poem a Day) Challenge: “For today’s prompt, write a complex poem. Complex is a complex word that can refer to mental state, apartments, difficulty of a situation, and so many other complex situations.”

I wanted to say more about this for the English 203 students who are still doing the challenge. Eight students began the challenge on April 1, and two remain. For those two, here is something to think about when doing today’s prompt.

I remember doing a similar prompt in what was the equivalent of 303 when I was an undergraduate and new on the poetry track. Albert Goldbarth was the instructor, and it was a workshop class with a draft a week, I think, although that sounds like a lot looking back. I remember weekly workshop though, so it must have been a draft a week. Anyway, one assigned poem was what he called a complex poem, which I immediately translated as “long.” He was patient, I’ll give him that. He would say, no, not necessarily longer, but complex, and pointed out that relatively brief poems could be highly complex. It’s been a few years now, and I’ve also noticed that long poems aren’t necessarily complex just because they’re long. So, when I do this draft, what I will be concentrating on is how many threads I can weave into the poem without diffusing it too much or making it scattered or obscure. The draft will be in a separate post.

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Author of the poetry collection The Tethered Ground and Professor of English at Missouri State University. Contact me for readings or for workshops on writing/publishing and on teaching writing online.

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