For either 12 or 24 hours starting at 9am on August 5, 2017, an elite group of writers entered into - and finished - the annual Poetry Marathon. This was my second year I entered only the half marathon, writing one poem per hour for 12 hours, from 9am - 9pm.
While this may sound 'easy' enough at first thought, it's a far more grueling commitment than most can imagine - just like running a marathon or half marathon. I mean, how many of us can run? Run a mile? Run five or ten? It's when the miles - and poems and hours - start adding one on top of another that the breakdown enters in. In marathon running, they call it "hitting the wall." Even though running - or writing poetry - is something you love to do, the constraints of time and goal of a numerical accomplishment push that relationship to its limits.
Started by Caitlin Jans (Thompson) and Jacob Jans in 2011, there have since been six marathons. Every year, hundreds enter their names to compete, and every year, only a fraction of those actually do. This year, 95 poets successfully completed 24 poems in 24 hours and 123 poets successfully completed 12 poems in 12 hours. Congratulations to all on this accomplishment! See a full list of the 'winners' here, where the poems are posted via a WordPress site, and the organizers just closed submissions for the second annual anthology of winners' submissions.
If you missed the marathon this year - and the five other times it's been held - you may or may not still have a chance to enter. Caitlin and Jacob have announced that the future of the marathon is up in the air. They are looking for someone who might be interested in helping run it, or other options for keeping it going. It's clearly no 'easy' task on their end either, but their efforts to date have been immensely appreciated. I'm sure every one of us who has successfully completed this challenge will forever hold a sense of pride in that accomplishment. As well we should!