Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August Challenge: A Private Month of Poetry

As some of my friends and reader/s will be aware, I traditionally participate each January in the Month of Poetry (MOP) challenge, which involves - wait for it - writing a poem every day in the month of January. There's a great group of supportive women who participate and give each other feedback, help and advice. We share our daily efforts on a closed Facebook group that is open all year round for ongoing poetic workshopping. We're even (slowly, slowly) pulling together an anthology from the group, tentatively titled Limina.

January has come to be identified in my mind with poems, with the daily exercise and discipline of them. I tend to write to themes - for the last three Januaries, I have done poems about women from seminal stories (Torah, mythology, fairytale), trying to tell the tales again in a counter-authorial voice. I'm actually working on drawing together those poems into a chapbook for self-publication (title pending - if you have a great idea for a title for a book of poems about women from stories, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!)

However, I am increasingly feeling that a sustained burst once a year, with sporadic poetic output the rest of the year, is not enough to really grow me as a poet. I want to start being much more intentional about my poetry and about finding ways to communicate it. Part of that is also about overcoming my pervasive sense of not-good-enoughedness, and the only way through that particular brain weasel is to keep writing enough and submitting enough that I don't have time to second-guess myself constantly.

Recently I submitted a poem to an online journal after the encouragement of my poetry group, and was thrilled (astonished, but happy!) when they accepted it and bought it for publication. (I will link to it when it runs!) I would like to place more poems over the next 12 months - not for the money, because hello poetry is not a remunerative profession, but for the immense satisfaction of sharing the things I am trying to share when I write them.

 I do identify as a writer primarily as a poet. I write fiction from time to time, but it is not my main jam, and it's not where I feel my voice is most authentically what I want it to be. With a busy freelance professional writing business and three kids, I don't have the time to invest in making myself a better fiction writer, and I am really OK with that.

What I want - what I want so much - is to be poet I want to be; to be able to express the things I am burdened to say in a way that has meaning for people other than me. To do that, I feel like I need not just more craft education, but also just more practice. I am made better every year by doing January's MOP, but I want more from myself than one month of delight and hard work.

So August, I have decided, is going to be another Month of Poetry for me. It'll be a different experience, going it alone (although I am sure I will post some of my poems into my group for critique, which they always very kindly provide). I will post occasional poems here, but mostly I will be keeping the work private, to see what grows from it. But I will be using the blog as an accountability tool, to note what work has been done.

To kick things off - today I am working on a poem for my chapbook, which picks up and twists the story of the Little Match Girl (from Hans Christian Andersen). It is only just started at this stage but I think I will get it done.

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