February 11, 2022 Christi

Update: 30 Poems in 30 Days

What the Poem Marathon is Teaching Me So Far

Dear Friends:

Taking part in the 30/30 Project began with the thrill of accountability and the challenge to daily arrange and rearrange my poem pieces like a secret tray of Scrabble letters in a game, anticipating my next (hopefully!) brilliant move.

I could not have made a start without daily journal practice. Poems came in flashes and sparks. I walked my beach trail in the rain on February 1, acquiring new boots which brought to mind boots of the past. I loved stumbling upon these memories and parallels. “Rubber Boots I” and “Rubber Boots II” emerged. “Sally,” is my first villanelle.

The other thing that happened was that J entered into the next phase of house renovation, and this meant taking down, for sanding and painting, each and every door in our home. Which meant writing poems without solitude, conflicted by appreciation and frustration, working through the chipped paint of the mind. The poems: “Unhinged,” and “Just Let Me Back into the Damn Bedroom.”

Holed up in the cubby-like laundry room, I “found” a poem that recalled a volatile relationship of thirty-five years ago—a validating discovery, “OCD.”

Then I misunderstood the 30/30 instructions and posted outside the guidelines, which brought correction. Though completely mild, the experience threw me into a tailspin, pricking the old me, always exceedingly careful to follow every rule. I had to laugh at my ego, “Waiting to Be Discovered,” another poem. And the gig was up: “Sneak.”

Meanwhile, winter showers melted into glorious sunshine, and J and I experienced many gorgeous adventures. We hiked above a lighthouse to the barking of sea lions, and walked daily to the river jetty, eyed by harbor seals. We tunneled into woods, emerged onto crashing shores, gasped at molten sunsets that gobsmacked us for language. (The double haiku, “Dusk.”) Which brings me to today’s poem, in which I don’t feel I deserve this amazing life and landscape (Day 11: “What They Don’t Tell You About Paradise.”)

The demand to write a poem each day has made it hard to work on short stories (and woe to my novel and nonfiction book, relegated to Procrastination Purgatory), but hurray for the prose-poem/flash piece I wrote for a short inspiring class by the amazing writer and teacher, Sherri Hoffman.

Most days I start my poem by 8 or 9, leave it for several hours, then scramble to revise or perhaps just complete the draft, by 7 or 8:30 pm . . . (it’s due by 9 pm)! There have been many moments of panic and harry. (I’m not sure if I can use harry as a noun here, but there you go.)

It’s constantly there: the awareness that I need to do more, learn more, try more. I’m floored by the talented poets in my company. It’s all I can do to keep from total intimidation some days. If you haven’t explored all the poets and their poems, you’re in for a marvelous treat.

Thank you for the soul-sustaining messages. They’ve made me feel blessed and connected. The fact I am more than halfway to my fundraising goal makes me marvel. Many of you have donated even while experiencing financial constraints. This is humbling.

I am inspired by partnership, and am learning so much. I’m delighted by this Tupelo Press opportunity to participate in the literary arts.

Thank you.

Contact Christi