For the 100th Poster poems, we look back at 10 of the most popular blogs in the series and invite entries on a commemorative theme
The first Poster poems blog was posted on 28 March 2008. It was a bit of an experiment, something that had been in the air, and my original agreement with the good people of Guardian Towers was to try it for 10 weeks or so. The idea really caught on and the blog has now run for a bit longer than first envisaged: this is the 100th in the series.
The theme for the original post was spring, and it informed what became a pattern of my linking to and briefly discussing a handful of illustrative poems, some famous, others less well known, to serve loosely as models for readers' contributions. The template has allowed me to issue a series of challenges to readers to post their own work for others to enjoy. To mark the Poster poems century, it seems like a good idea to look back at 10 of the most popular of the preceeding 99 poetry calls.
Having started with a theme in the first blog, I thought it would be a good idea to look at formal challenges, too. The second post was a call for poems in syllabics. This inspired many very interesting contributions and thus the mix of formal and topical challenges became integral to the pattern.
Of invitations to write in a set form, by far the most popular was the limericks blog of December 2008. One of the more surprising aspects of that blog, for me, was the discovery that one possible originator of what must be the most scurrilous of all English verse forms is the father of scholastic philosophy, Thomas Aquinas. Perhaps it was the good doctor's imprimatur that resulted in the 562 comments that that particular Poster poems attracted. Other popular form-based Poster poems blogs included the sonnet and the haiku/senryu, with fun to be had playing with the apparent restrictions of these tightly controlled structures.
Given the limited number of established poetic forms, it's hardly surprising that most Poster poems challenges centred on themes and topics. One popular early theme was the call, on 2 May 2008, for satirical poems. Boris Johnson's victory in London's mayoral election that same day may have helped: satire is part of poetry's public face. At the other, more private, end of the poetic spectrum a call for poems on the subject of dreams drew a plentiful response. This was the first Poster poems to benefit from a technical fix that allowed verse line-breaks in comments.
Occasionally I hit on subjects that straddled the boundary between the formal and the thematic. One such was the language games blog, in which the line between form and content was blurred.
Even more popular was the call for aubades, or dawn songs, which attracted more than 300 poems.
As well as covering the great subjects of life, love and death, many themed blogs, like the first, were based on the current time of year. Indeed, in 2012 I invited posters to complete a poetic calendar. It seems fitting to round off this 10 of the best by remembering the January 2012 post that kicked off that series within a series.
If you're new to Poster poems, I hope you might take a closer look at this selection to get a taste of what it's all about. As the Guardian Books gang have been kind enough to reopen them for comments, you might like to add a poem or two to the mix. Meanwhile, can I invite you to use the comments section for this 100th blog to add poems on the theme of anniversaries or to suggest any of your favourites I may have missed?
Finally, I'd like to wish all Poster poems readers and contributors old and new a happy new year; here's to a 2014 that's full of verse and other good things for all.
Another chance to try your hand at: