30/30 June 2016

In June, I participated in Tupelo Press’s fundraising challenge to write 30 poems in 30 days–an artistic marathon.

Why?

First, it is a fundraiser for Tupelo Press. Independent, non-profit publishers are the backbone of the poetry community, and so fostering them financially as well as with our time and attention seems a worth enterprise.

More personally, I had a mix of reason for taking this on. Having been awarded a sabbatical leave from teaching for 2016-17, the effort to write and post/publish a poem every day for a month seemed like a great kick off. While I won’t be teaching, I will be working. This 30/30 helped me to begin the process of digging into the ground of my own artistic process and find new springs of creation.

Frankly, the prospect was both scary and exhilarating .

Of course, I was intimidated by making my process so public and of the prospect of drying up, writing what even I know is drivel, and proving once and for all that I never “had it” in the first place. All that imposter syndrome stuff. See my post about producing “Poems on Demand” for more reflections.

Feeling the doubts of creating that acutely put me in touch with what many of my students undergo every semester. Wrestling with it over the course of the month, helped activate some subtle coping mechanisms–some productive and some not-so-much–and I can be a better teacher. Stay tuned for more reflections on that part later.

But I was also energized by the challenge. The creative wheels were turning for new work. It certainly re-oriented my habits and routines, allowing for deeper engagement with language, for musing and moodling, and for reaching out to people who might be interested in this enterprise.

I did indeed create, revise, and post all 30 poems, and thanks to many of you, more than $600 was donated. I actually wrote more poems than were posted, and a number of threads started in June have begun to weave into other poems, So I’d call the project a great success. And since it’s the start of a sabbatical year, it’s just the beginning…

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