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!
There is no fee to enter this contest, prizes will be awarded for first ($3000) and two runners up ($1000) as well as print/online publication. Deadline: September 1, 2017.
Toni Beauchamp [pictured] was the president of Art Lies Board from 2002-2004. See the Gulf Coast website for more details.
The Poetry Marathon is run (no pun intended) by Caitlin Jans (Thomson) and Jacob Jans, two writers and web publishers living in the Pacific Northwest. There is no charge to participate in the marathon, and in 2016, over 500 writers started the marathon, but many did not finish. Clearly, this is not an activity for the faint of heart.
Last year, I participated in the half marathon and found it to be demanding, frustrating (sometimes forgetting to write my poem!), but in the end immensely rewarding. I have run marathons and half marathons, and the feeling from finishing the Poetry Marathon was very similar. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment, and at the same time, a bit of sadness that it was over. I had posted poems, offered feedback to others, received comments on mine - just like cheering each other on in a foot race. It was sad to be a part of such an intense, similarly driven community of writers, and then, just be done with them. It's what makes a person want to come back and do it again!
The Poetry Marathon website has an FAQ that answers the burning questions, like: How do I prepare for the Marathon? What if I can't be at a computer all day? What happens to the poems once I post them? and more. The site also features blog posts from previous participants who offer commentary on their marathon experience. If you're not sure about the commitment, just try it for a day on your own. See what it takes to get to the computer once an hour and write a poem (or at least write a poem per hour, because you are allowed to "catch up" at the computer if you can't get to one every hour).
This year, like last year, the organizers plan to publish a Poetry Marathon Anthology of poems written during the marathon. Some writers included in the first anthology: Sheila Sondik, Teri Harroun, Marie Moser, Raven Kingsley, Joan Leotta, J.I. Klienberg, Liam Strong, Will Jackson, Anne McMaster, Ebony Larijani, and Seema Ka.
For you newbies, the August PoPo Fest goes like this: You sign up. You get a list of 31 names/addresses of other people who signed up. Starting late July, you write a poem a day on a postcard and mail it off to the next person on the list, so by the end of the month, you will have (hopefully) written and sent 31 poems and (hopefully) received 31 poems.
The poems are not supposed to be pre-written or something you've been working on for months. This is an exercise is the spontaneous, the demanding, the gut-driven, the postcard inspired - whatever it is that gets you to write once a day, each day, and send it off into the world.
Last year, poems from contributors were selected for publication in the 1st Poetry Postcard Fest Anthology, 56 Days of August, Poetry Postcards, to be published October 2017.
I've done this event since it began! I don't always keep to a poem a day; sometimes I get ahead one day, or catch up another, with several poems in one day. But I try my best. The event gets me thinking of poetry in my every day, when I rarely have time for it, and writing it down - something I have time for even more rarely.
I've received poems from across the state, the country and around the globe. I've gotten postcards made from cereal boxes, some with gorgeous original artwork, and lots of the lovely tacky tourist cards from travel destinations. I have cards from "famous" poets, and some who have since become more famous, and some never signed, so I'll never know, and it hardly matters. I've gotten poetry. Sent to me directly. From strangers. Lovely, strange, absurd, and funny. Poetry.
It's an amazing event, and I hope you will take the challenge and join in this year. There is a nominal fee for the event ($10). I can only imagine the amount of work it is to run this (with 300+ people participating), and keeping up virtual space to promote it. I'm not dissuaded by the fee, knowing the extraordinary event that it is, and knowing I've spent 100 times that on conferences from which I've gotten a great deal less inspiration...anyone else?
So, please writers, wanna-bes and needs-a-kick-in-the-arsers, poetry lovers, postcard lovers - this event is for you. Join us! Registration ends July 18!
Visit the new Broadsided Press website to catch up on the most recent art and poetry collaborations available for free, full-color download to post and share. May: "Backyard" - words by Melissa Fite Johnson, art by Amy Meissner; June: "My Father's Hearing Aid" - words by Adam Chiles, art by Cheryl Gross; July: "Pink" - words by Terese Svoboda, art by Lisa Sette. Each artist and poet give a brief commentary on their work, which provides a great teaching tool for classroom use. Broadsided is looking to build a section of lesson plans for using broadsides in K-12, college, community centers, etc., so if you have some best practices to share, visit their website and click on TEACH.
During the Great Depression, a New Deal program brought books to Kentuckians living in remote areas.
In 1936, packhorse librarians served 50,000 families, and, by 1937, 155 public schools. Children loved the program; many mountain schools didn't have libraries, and since they were so far from public libraries, most students had never checked out a book. "'Bring me a book to read,' is the cry of every child as he runs to meet the librarian with whom he has become acquainted," wrote one Pack Horse Library supervisor. "Not a certain book, but any kind of book. The child has read none of them."
Read the full article and see more photos here.
The 100 Thousand Poets for Change website now features a Global Action Calendar open to everyone for posting creative actions planned to take place around the world, as well as the Resistance Poetry Wall, an open call for posting poetry about the recent USA elections. Poets from around the world are invited to post.
100 Thousand Poets for Change wants everyone planning now for their local September events and asks that organizers register their events on the 100 TPC website so your actions can be recognized.