The Cento of Attention #NaPoWriMo

© N Nazir 2021

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine 1
feel the future dissolve in a moment 2
Sometimes a piece of sun 3
says everything 4
And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world 5

And his soul is seasoned, his soul 6
who comes back to the dust at your feet 7
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat. 8

I saw a sugary pyramid 9
in a puddle of fairytale silver 10
The drunkenness of things being various 11
that sultry afternoon 12

Though there are torturers in the world 13
the world offers itself to your imagination 14
The world is full of paper 15
and is infinitely alive 16
to make love in war and war in love 17

So imagine me there 18
in a rising wind 19
glistening like an orange split open 20
on the edge of the night. 21

© N Nazir 2022

NaPoWriMo Prompt: And now – our final (but still optional!) prompt. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a cento. This is a poem that is made up of lines taken from other poems. If you’d like to dig into an in-depth example, here’s John Ashbery’s cento “The Dong with the Luminous Nose,” and here it is again, fully annotated to show where every line originated. A cento might seem like a complex undertaking – and one that requires you to have umpteen poetry books at your fingertips for reference – but you don’t have to write a long one. And a good way to jump-start the process is to find an online curation of poems about a particular topic (or in a particular style), and then mine the poems for good lines to string together. You might look at the Poetry Foundation’s collection of love poems, or its collection of poems by British romantic poets, or even its surprisingly expansive collection of poems about (American) football.

To find out more information or to take part, please visit

1. Wild Geese, Mary Oliver
2. Kindness, Naomi Shihab Nye
3. We Have Lost Even, Pablo Neruda
4. Silence, Mourid Barghouti
5. Snow, Louis MacNeice
6. A Man in His Life, Yehuda Amichai
7. Happiness, Jane Kenyon
8. From Blossoms, Li-Young Lee
9. Sweetness Always, Pablo Neruda
10. Tell Me About It, Ruth Padel
11. Snow, Louis Macneice
12. Strawberries, Edwin Morgan
13. Though There Are Torturers in the World, Michael Cody
14. Wild Geese, Mary Oliver
15. Stationery, Agha Shahid Ali
16. Sweetness Always, Pablo Neruda
17. A man in His Life, Yehuda Amichai
18. Eurydice, Carol Ann Duffy (from The World’s Wife)
19. The Layers, Stanley Kunitz
20. Presents from My Aunts in Pakistan, Moniza Alvi (from Carrying My Wife)
21. Brink, Carol Ann Duffy (from Rapture)

*In some cases, I have used more than one line from the same poem, I couldn’t resist. A lot of the above poems can be found in an anthology called Staying Alive which comes as a trilogy of books. It’s wonderful to read, I highly recommend it.

*If I’d had more time, I would have asked permission from some of you fine poets to be able to use lines from poems of yours I love. Perhaps I’ll do this in the future. What a lovely collaborative form. It feels like you’re the director compiling a narrative using different artist’s work. It’s so cool.

*I have a habit of snapping photos of any poems that strike me whilst perusing bookshops or libraries so this came in supremely handy as I had a whole bunch ready to reference on my phone for this prompt. Still, I am pleased it’s the last prompt of the month – YAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY!!!! Challenge accepted and demolished. Thank you, NaPoWriMo!

*Thank you so much to everyone for reading and commenting. It is always wonderful to know your thoughts and I will surely reply and return the favour in the coming days. Much love to you all ❤

A Blessing or a Curse? #NaPoWriMo 

Photo by Steph Huth on

Because you can paint like a wizard
but it doesn’t pay for toffee
so you end up working in HR
then quite annoyingly
become really good at HR.

Because you can secretly sing
a pitch perfect Nessun Dorma in your own key
but are crushed by shyness
and can barely say hello to a boy you like.

Because you are good at countless things –
even more on first attempt at trying another –
then are torn between all the loves
and cannot choose the one
that will make your fortune.

Because you have every trapping of wealth imaginable
and no friends or lover to share it with
and even if you did, how would you ever know
that they were not just there
for the hors d’oeuvres and champagne
a ride in your new yacht
or have secret designs
to make you fund their new life?

Because you discover the cure for cancer
but the world ends
because of another rampant disease
or because a bullyboy dictator
presses the red button.

Because you wish to be a famous actor
but the only time you make it on TV
is as a gun-wielding bank robber
in a Crimewatch documentary.

Because you want to travel the world
and have a job that occasionally allows you to
but have a terrible sense of direction
so end up in random locations
and then spend the whole day
trying to become unlost
during which time
you find yourself.

© N Nazir 2022

*I might have gone a bit left field with the prompt.

*only the odd one of these is true in my case. The last stanza is pretty much on the nose.

NaPoWriMo Prompt: And here’s our prompt (optional, as always). In certain versions of the classic fairytale Sleeping Beauty, various fairies or witches are invited to a princess’s christening, and bring her gifts. One fairy/witch, however, is not invited, and in revenge for the insult, lays a curse on the princess. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem in which you muse on the gifts you received at birth — whether they are actual presents, like a teddy bear, or talents – like a good singing voice – or circumstances – like a kind older brother, as well as a “curse” you’ve lived with (your grandmother’s insistence on giving you a new and completely creepy porcelain doll for every birthday, a bad singing voice, etc.). I hope you find this to be an inspiring avenue for poetic and self-exploration.

For more information or to take part, please visit

A Concrete Poem (for the Lunatics) #NaPoWriMo

moon, wh-
en you touch me with s-
ilver licking lunacy, my inne-
r stores replenish once more…I fa-
ll away into howling divinity, mate-
rnal, replete, cake-dust-sweet…I f-
all away into timelessness, a tr-
ick you like to play with me
…stardust fizzing in
my bones.

© N Nazir 2022

*Wordpress doesn’t allow for much in the way of formatting so I kept it simple. It’s a total cheat as I wrote it a few months ago, but I was short on time.

*if you wish, you can check out another example of a concrete poem by me here.

*Sorry I haven’t responded to comments yet, everything’s a little topsy turvy right now, but I will respond soon. I really appreciate them though ❤

NaPoWriMo prompt: Today’s (optional) prompt is to write a concrete poem. Like acrostic poems, concrete poems are a favourite for grade-school writing assignments, so this may not be your first time at the concrete-poem rodeo. In brief, a concrete poem is one in which the lines are shaped in a way that mimics the topic of the poem. For example, May Swenson’s poem “Women” mimics curves, reinforcing the poem’s references to motion, rocking horses, and even the shape of a woman’s body. George Starbuck’s “Sonnet in the Shape of a Potted Christmas Tree” is – you guessed it – a sonnet in the shape of a potted Christmas tree. Your concrete poem could be complexly-shaped, but relatively simple strategies can also be “concrete” —  like a poem involving a staircase where the length of the lines grows or shrinks over time, like an ascending (or descending) set of stairs.

For more information or to take part, please visit

A Sonnet of Sorts #NaPoWriMo

So many comely eggs in a line
good eggs, bad eggs, duck blue, powder pink

I used to be duck egg blue but now
I’m hollow and full at the same time.

Such hollow echoes it makes when you
crack all the eggs to make a perfect

cheesecake.  It’s always far from perfect
but that’s half the fun of it.  It tastes

like the other half of fun you were
missing.  But the season for blue eggs

is over.  Now the season arrives
for hatchlings to become.  We used to

be hatchlings once.  Now we’ve become like
so many comely eggs in a line.

© N Nazir 2022

NaPoWriMo Prompt: Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a “duplex.” A “duplex” is a variation on the sonnet, developed by the poet Jericho Brown. Here’s one of his first “Duplex” poems, and here is a duplex written by the poet I.S. Jones. Like a typical sonnet, a duplex has fourteen lines. It’s organized into seven, two-line stanzas. The second line of the first stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the second stanza, the second line of the second stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the third stanza, and so on. The last line of the poem is the same as the first.

For more information or to take part, please visit

A Hybrid Poem (Homeric-style?) #NaPoWriMo

…hangs in full view
too close to see
how it falls over
its own edge
a rogue contained
in mid-air, a hiss
of simmering

Collage Poems, (Sketchbook 2022), © N Nazir 2022

…sitting somewhere
writing reams
purloining fruit
of forbidden blush
hiding behind
trench coat, glasses
drinking wine
in the hush
of dusk.

© N Nazir 2022

NaPoWriMo Review: And now for our daily prompt (optional, as always). A couple of days ago, we played around with hard-boiled similes. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that contains at least one of a different kind of simile – an epic simile. Also known as Homeric similes, these are basically extended similes that develop over multiple lines.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, they have mainly been used in epic poems, typically as decorative elements that emphasize the dramatic nature of the subject (see, by way of illustration, this example from Milton’s Paradise Lost). But you could write a complete poem that is just one lengthy, epic simile, relying on the surprising comparison of unlike things to carry the poem across.

And if you’re feeling especially cheeky, you could even write a poem in which the epic simile spends lines heroically and dramatically describing something that turns out to be quite prosaic. Whatever you decide to compare, I hope you have fun extending your simile(s) to epic lengths.

For more information or to take part, please visit

*I will reply to comments soon! Thank you for stopping by 🙂