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.

30/30 Project, Days 13-27

Yep, I skipped an entire week of reporting. Blame real life getting in the way of blogging. But I’ve had a fun two weeks. There are some days when I feel drained at the prospect of writing an audience-ready poem before midnight. But I’m still having a great time, and I love getting to know the work of my fellow participants.

One of my favorite experiences so far happened on January 24th when, instead of writing our own poems, we collaborated on a renga via email. I love the way the poem moves from an exterior focus to an interior, domestic scene.

Inspirations over the past two weeks: high school French, the dreary weather (which seems to be on its way out, thank goodness), having to kill some pests and feeling guilty about it, Blas Falconer’s “Teaching Imagination” exercise in Wingbeats, Andrea Hollander Budy’s “The Postcard Poem” exercise in Wingbeats, the memory of driving through Waco at 7 a.m. on a Sunday in December, Susan Terris’ “Twenty Lines for Titles” exercise in Wingbeats, grief/death, Apple’s end-user license agreement, hair, a bread recipe, the memory of seeing Saddam Hussein being executed while I was standing in line at Walmart, the possum that invaded my yard in the middle of the day, sneezes, William Carlos Williams, synonyms, and the haiku workshop I attended this weekend.

Katerina Stoykova-Klemer didn’t have time to read our poems on the air on her January 18th show, but she did mention my chapbook (which is still in pre-order, by the way)! She was able to share our work throughout the hour on the January 25th show. I love hearing our poems read aloud.

I have just under a week left in the project. Please donate to Tupelo Press!

30/30, Days 1-5

I’ve made it through the first five days of the 30/30 Project unscathed! I’m happy to say that so far, I’ve achieved my goal of sending in things I would consider ready for workshop. It’s a little stressful publishing things you know aren’t completely finished, but that’s how it goes when you’re operating with a quick turnaround time, and I’m not ashamed of any of my pieces. One of the poems has already found a place within my Curved Tongue, Forked Road manuscript.

I’m also humbled by the other poets participating. They’re all sweet, encouraging, and inspiring. Just a few months ago, I didn’t know any of them, and now I’m hoping we all stay in touch when January ends.

Inspirations for the first five days: the morning air, Kate Greenstreet, the (impending) anniversary of Reesa’s death, The Cartoon Guide to Physics, Wendy Barker’s “A Crack in the Cup” exercise (found in Wingbeats), Georgia A. Popff’s “Tales from the Bathroom” exercise (also found in Wingbeats), and memories of my first year in college.

One of the participating poets, Katerina Stoykova-Klemer, hosts a radio show called Accents, and this week, she concluded by talking about the project, and reading a poem from each of us. I was honored when she read my Day 2 poem, “Your Ghost.” That was a tough one to put out, but also one that was very important for me to write. Click here to listen to the broadcast archive (the 30/30 project is discussed in the last 15 minutes).

So far, so good! I’m looking forward to the rest of the month. And if you can afford, please donate to Tupelo Press!