Escapril: How a poetry writing challenge curates community
I remember being holed up in my room as the world around me went into a deep slumber; this was early 2020, and the pandemic was just reaching our doorsteps. I spent my time in solitude rediscovering that side of me that had always been enamored with poetry. The highest form of literature, as many call it, had always felt like a world I was not allowed into. I spent days exploring the medium in all its movements across history, and the more I learned the more I wanted to write. To put something out there. But for whom? And to whom would I reach out if I wanted to find a community? A community for something as niche as poetry simply did not exist anywhere around me, so I went looking online. And that's how I stumbled onto Escapril.
YouTuber, author, and, not to forget, poet, Savannah Brown established Escapril as yet another writing challenge to encourage poets to write more frequently and to share their work online, in hopes of garnering a community no matter how loosely tied it may be. Every year since 2019, Savannah has managed to initiate this month-long writing challenge taking place during the National Poetry Month in the US. But that has most certainly not been Escapril's sole audience— this simple Instagram writing challenge has attracted poets across the globe in droves.
But how does it work? Simple: the Instagram account for Escapril posts all 30 prompts for the month ahead of time, and the poet is only required to write by taking inspiration from said prompts. The challenge only really serves the purpose of encouraging writing daily, even if not every day's piece is satisfactory, a constant output of words in a focused and constrained manner helps the writer flourish their creativity. And when they find themselves sharing their work amidst a crowd of others equally passionate, they might just feel at home.
The month of April sees me grow as a poet. I've developed a small ritual of reaching out and reading the work put up by others every night (as soon as I'm done with racking my own brain for words). What I've discovered is poetry as varied and unique as the human spirit. Recently, I stumbled upon yet another participating poet who goes by the name of zoraisapersoniguess on Instagram. One of her recent poems about living as an artist in a corporatized world left me mesmerized.
"let me sell you my trauma
cheaper than you can get it elsewhere
let me repost a graphic
to save no lives"
Yet this is but the tip of the iceberg. I've discovered many poets over the years, and so many of them have been due to Escapril. I have grown to call many such poets friends and acquaintances. The community I've managed to find here is, admittedly, loose, but it's always a place where poets can come to grow. The challenge of writing something new every day is exciting, and it pushes me to experiment with the very idea of a poem with each new prompt. I often catch myself musing over how I might make the day's poem stand out from everything else I've done—and I've never truly had that happen outside of these writing challenges. When I ask my friends to share their experiences, I am greeted with similar answers.
"Escapril taught me to write poetry that wasn't so selfish", says Tashfia Ahmed, a teacher, writer, and a friend whom I discovered during the Escapril challenge in 2020. "The creative community here has also helped me discover and challenge the notion of what poetry is. It's very gratifying because it's only another poet who can comprehend the craft of another poet's writing."
Her words resonate with me—the desire to push your boundaries after looking at your peers conjures up a poem is invigorating. Rarely outside of this month do I get to feel the thrill of having my creativity spark so constantly.
In addition to Tashfia, I also managed to have a small conversation with Ashab Tanha, another friend I made from Escapril and one whose poetry I've followed for years now.
"I loved to look at the creativity and the strain of wringing it out", he explains. "When I started, most of my readers had been friends and family, but I started gaining readers from parts of the writing community. And I'm very glad to see more Bangladeshi poets joining Escapril, some of my best ideas come out from here, and it has helped with my creativity tremendously."
With Sehri Tales and Escapril occurring simultaneously, writers are given that much more incentive to hone their creativity this month. And with this year's Escapril in full swing, I'm already giddy with excitement for 2024.
Raian Abedin has no idea what to write for today's Sehri Tale, give him tips on how to write flash fiction at IG: @raian_is_burning.