Oh boy, it's that time of year again. April. The month when we're all supposed to be cranking out a poem a day. But here I am, workless, poemless, idealess. I'm not even going to pretend that I've tried to get into this poem-a-day thing. I haven't. At least not this year. I did try a few years ago—and failed. I tried harder the next year—and failed better.
Frankly, I've accepted that this just isn't the way I write. No can do. I love William Stafford, but a poem every single day—and before he even got out of bed? That just makes me feel inadequate. So I've thrown in the towel and admitted that my process isn't that process. I can go days at a time—hey! weeks at a time—without writing a poem. But then things begin to happen, stuff comes out of my head, and lands on paper. Poems get revised and finished. Not prolific but that's how I do it. One of the most important developments in my growth as a poet has been coming to an understanding of my own process. (I'm getting sick of the word "process" but can't come up with a better one right now, so it will have to do.)
Still, even armed with this self-knowledge, I see all these other poets around me posting poems and progress reports on their blogs, on their Facebook timelines, and in the various online groups that have sprung up like daffodils. So I can't help feeling a bit like a slug.
What a relief, then, to come across others like me. Donna Vorreyer, for example, freely admits that while she will pay attention to poetry each day, she's not going to insist on a poem a day. She says, "I will count revision work as a day’s work on a poem. I will count preparing a submission as a day’s work. I will count reading a significant amount of a poetry book as a day’s work. I will count attending and / or giving a poetry reading as a day’s work. And, of course, drafting a poem will absolutely count." Great. I'm off the hook. I just wish she didn't sound quite so productive in subsequent blog posts.
Then there's Martha Silano who says, "I have not been writing a poem a day this month, but every day this month I have either started a new poem, worked on editing my manuscript, worked on an essay about Adrienne Rich, or conducted research for as-yet unwritten poems. Yesterday I began this poem below in my car on the way to chaperoning a field trip with my son's class at Tiger Mountain."
So there's one more poet who is counting poetry-related activities as having met the April goal. Good. I just wish she hadn't mentioned a new manuscript (she's just had a book published) or posted that draft. I wonder if she wrote it while she was driving?
I guess there's no escaping a bit of guilt. But I'm also going to focus on other aspects of poetry. Last Thursday I went to a reading. I was one of only 9 people in the audience. I felt especially bad for the poet who'd driven in from NYC. Where was everyone else? I wonder if they were home writing poems?
Then I'm giving a reading in two weeks. The very next night I'll be taking a friend to a contest reading where she will read her first place poem. I get points for that, don't I?
I've also just finished and submitted a proposal for a poetry presentation for a 2013 festival.
Last week I submitted some poems to a new anthology. One poem accepted. Yay!
And like Donna and Martha, I have revisions underway. Yesterday morning I went through all my yellow legal pads and marked the pieces that seemed like they might have some potential. I bought new legal pads. New pens. It's only mid-April. I may yet get a new poem or two written. To tell the truth, I'd be delighted with one or two.
Maybe I'm not so bad after all.