Thursday 20 February 2014

Month of Poetry

by Jeanette O'Hagan

In January, encouraged by Nola and Michelle, I signed up for MoP - Month of Poetry - with some trepidation and a smidgen of excitement. After all, I had dabbled in poetry before but the task was to write one poem a day for the whole month of January - 31 poems.  Still they didn't have to be big and they didn't have to be brilliant and if I got stuck maybe I could bring out one of my poems in progress from the bottom drawer. So I took a risk...

And I'm so glad I did. For one thing, the discipline or expectation that I would write one poem a day meant that I did. I surprised myself. How often did I sit down to a blank page with nary an idea - only to find the words flowing? A lot. By the end of January I had written  ... not 31 poems
but ... 33 :)

Not only did I write poems during this time (and actually a few since then) but people read and commented on them. It was great to get encouraging but honest feedback. And I enjoyed providing feedback to my fellow MoP-anauts.

But just as good was reading everyone else's poems. I've never read so much poetry at one time - and I enjoyed all of it. There was such a wide variety and levels of experience. Some, like me, felt like beginners. Others were obviously much more practiced and confident. There was a huge variety of styles as well - from sonnets, haiku, blank verse, free form, to shaped poems, acrostics & verse novels. I learned new forms - the difference between haiku and senryu, found poems, erasure poems, climbing rhymes, villanelles and trimerics. Best of all, I had fun.

Poems were  posted on a closed website with stated copyright protection for the writer.

It was an exhilarating month and I'm keen to sign up for MoP 2015. In the meantime, here was my effort on Day 29

A long time ago

Once upon a time
when I was five
in the middle of the year
we moved to a new house
in School Road
just a short dreamy amble away
from my new school.

And I was thrilled
to escape
that dragon teacher
I forget her name
her hard face
who breathed fiery
tough-hearted spite
“No you can’t go,
You should have gone
in the break”

But now exchanged
for motherly Mrs Fisher
who enveloped us
in her matronly smiles
and rewarded completed sums
with a sweet rainbow
of tempting, tantalising
jelly beans.

Yet new perils awaited
lurking in the expanses of
bitumen and dust
of the school grounds.
No, not the harsh outback sun
beating down on hatted heads
Or the twirling,
fork-tailed kites
swooping for lunch scraps
within inches of startled faces
Or even the yellow, thick, three foot ruler
in grade three
whose watchful eye
was more threat than bite.

It was
the closed games
and head shakes
acid that etched
corroding self-confidence
as yet again
I trembled “Can I play?”
Averted heads
closed looks
leaving me to wander
and circle
overtures of friendship
adrift in solitary pursuits
until at the end of the day
I could return to riotous play
and daring adventures with
my brothers


But then at School I discovered
26 new friends
to whose game of musical chairs
I was not excluded
as they cheerfully spelled out
“Open Sesame”
and through the wardrobe
I stumbled
encountering a friendly untamed lion
from over the seas
giants, colourful strange lands
princesses and dashing princes
Lilliputians and giant fishes
Tom and Huckle’s adventures
time-fated Mohicans
just as outcaste and lonely
red headed Anne with an “e”
noble horses of great beauty
and loyal lassies
treasures discovered
in the snow of winter
never mind it was
a blistering 40 C
And my heart swelled
and my imagination expanded
and my world was populated
and I was content just to read.

Jeanette O’Hagan © 29 January 2014

Jeanette has practiced medicine, studied communication, history and theology and has taught theology.  She is currently caring for her  children, enjoying post-graduate studies in writing at Swinburne University and writing her Akrad fantasy fiction series.  She is actively involved in a caring Christian community.

You can find her on her Facebook page or webiste .

Some other posts by Jeanette: ;


  1. Well done Jenny on your busy creative month of poetry. I'm sure it opened up the floodgates of your interesting past and brought fresh creativity to your fingertips. Sounds like a very fulfilling month. Great to read of your early school experiences too and it made me smile to find that perfect ending when you were just 'content to read'.

  2. Thanks Anusha. It was indeed a great month and I was able to experiment with a whole range of poetry.

  3. Hi Jenny - It was great doing MoPs with you. Definitely a challenge, but I learned so much. It was great to see how everyone developed over the course of the month. Really love this poem. I somehow missed it the first time round - I think I had a few busy days towards the end and missed a few. The support, encouragement and feedback from others was very special. It didn't matter what level people were at. Everyone was accepting and gave constructive feedback. I'll be signing up again with you for MoPs 2015. Bring it on :)

    1. Hi Nola. The camaraderie of the group was one of the best things about it. Such a positive, encouraging group. I enjoyed sharing the experience with you too. Glad you love this poem :) See you at MoP next year - and here and elsewhere in between.

  4. I loved reading the poems you posted. A long time ago was my favourite. Thanks for sharing your poetic journey with us.

    1. Thanks Elaine :) Thanks for taking the time to read and appreciate them.

  5. Your poem touched me, Jeanette. Especially the part of being isolated but finding solace in the world of books. January was certainly a good month for you :)

    1. Thanks Margaret. What more could a writer ask for, that his/her work has touched another. Thank you.

  6. Sounds as if this past month really stretched you, Jeanette. Maybe you can publish them one day. I wonder if you began thinking in poetry. Fanny Crosby the blind lady who wrote many beloved hymns e.g., Blessed Assurance, could actually carry on a conversation in rhyme.

    1. Hi Rita. I would love to be able to publish them one day :) And yes, at times my head was full of rhyme and rhythm ;) though I doubt I would have been able to have conversation in rhyme lol.

  7. Ooh! This makes we wish i had joined the challenge. How wonderful to write and read such wonderful words. Maybe next year! Thanks for sharing your wonderful poem.

  8. Thanks Jo. Yes, we would love you to join next year. It was such a wonderful experience to be soaked in poetry :)

  9. Sounds a lot of fun Jeanette. I might have to try and take part next year.

    1. That would be wonderful Dale and it was heaps of fun :)