On the 11th of August I woke up at 5:55 in the morning, rolled out of bed, and wrote a poem that was 22 lines long. My husband wrote a sonnet. After posting our poems on the poetry marathon website, we went back to bed.
Less then half an hour later we were up and writing again. Until August the 12th at 6 AM, we did very little beside write, sleep, and eat. I managed to do two small runs and that felt like an achievement. Several east coast poets behaved similarly, although one managed to attend a winefest and write one of the best dog poems I have read in years. It was all part of the first year of the Poetry Marathon (24 poems in 24 hours). You can see all our writing here.
Writing 24 poems in one day is counter intuitive. Most people talk about writing a couple of poems a month, or working on one poem for a long period of time. Some writers talk about a muse or a mood being necessarily to write a poem. However forcing yourself to write can sometimes produce great things. Part of why writing so many poems in one day works, is that you realize right away that perfection is not possible. That nothing will be well polished. Instead you end up writing unusual, surprising, and occasionally great poems.
One of my close friends, an exceptionally gifted poet, stopped writing halfway through the marathon. It was too much. A couple of days later she told me that she wished she hadn’t stopped. That after reading all the poems that we wrote during the wee hours of the morning, she felt like she was reading break through poem after break through poem. It wasn’t that they were all amazing. But they were different, they were unlike anything that we had ever written before. After reviewing our poems, I agree with her opinion, it appeared that the second half of the marathon generally contained stronger poems then the first, which is not what I expected.
As a writer, around hour 18, I felt like I was running out of oxygen. My brain stopped functioning. The next day I could probably have only told you what three of my poems where about, but I was also filled with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. It was also such fun to read all of the great, compelling, and strange poems that other poets wrote.
Now that I am beginning the arduous process of editing my poems, I am really surprised by the ideas that some of them contain, by the language that I used. It seems that I have a much better sense of perspective in terms of these poems then I do for most of my poems. Writing 24 poems in 24 hours seems to have brought out different aspects of my writing.
We are still considering whether or not we should do this again next year, and would very much appreciate feedback in regards to that. Are you interested? What time of year would work best? We are considering a move to April, for poetry month. So please leave a comment, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.