30/30 Project: Wrapping Up

The January portion of the 30/30 Project ended today. Thanks to everyone who donated as a result of our efforts. Your contributions are appreciated by press and poet alike.

Final inspirations: Patti Smith albums (specifically Gung Ho and Peace and Noise), Lewis Turco’s “Paren(t)hesis” exercise in Wingbeats, Afaa Michael Weaver’s “The Bop” exercise in Wingbeats, the smell of barbecue in the middle of the afternoon, Ravi Shankar’s “A Manipulated Fourteen-Line Poem” in Wingbeats, and Catherine Bowman’s “The Bermuda Triangle” exercise in Wingbeats.

The project also generated notice from Kenyon Review blogger Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers. I wrote a long comment at the post, and because I feel like it does a great job of summarizing why I undertook this project and what I got out of it, I’m going to reproduce that comment here:

As a Tupelo 30/30 participant, this challenge was an extension of my own practice. In 2012 I committed to drafting a poem a day. And I used the term “drafting” consciously. I did not have to finish a poem in a day. I just had to get a draft of a piece down on paper.

At the end of the year, maybe a third of what I wrote ended up getting revised and completed. Most of what I wrote ended up not going very far. But the point wasn’t to produce finished drafts every day. The point was to sit down and do the words to see what arose from discipline. And what arose was more quality work than I’d produced before, when I’d waited for inspiration to happen.

With the Tupelo 30/30, the goal intensified. For an entire month, I couldn’t have a bad day. Not once so far have I been able to say “Today’s words sucked, but oh well. I’ll leave them be and do better tomorrow.” Being able to have an off-day is a luxury. If a poem utterly failed, I had to start over until I got something worthwhile.

People were going to be reading everything I put up–-I couldn’t turn in awful work. My goal for the Tupelo project was to have something I would consider worthy of taking into my critique group. I don’t take rough drafts into that group; I take in poems that have potential, that will achieve fullness.

Some of my Tupelo poems I do consider finished work. Most are still in-progress. A few have already been taken to critique group. I know that not all of my pieces will resonate with all of our audience members, but I’m proud of the work I did. I’m also humbled by the work of the eight other poets who took this challenge with me in January. I’m continually impressed with the quality of their work.

A big thanks to T.M. De Vos, Shannon Hardwick, Lindsay Penelope Illich, Mike McGeehon, Janie Miller, Nina Pick, Katerina Stoykova-Klemer, and Margaret Young. I had an amazing month writing with you.

And best wishes to the February participants. I can’t wait to read your work.

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