Interstitial Moment:

As many of you know, I decided last year to write (at least) a poem a day for the entire year of 2011, and by December 31 I was done. But along the way I had so much fun and learned so much, that I have decided to do it again.

Writers as a whole love to have written and hate to write. They bellyache and complain endlessly about how hard writing is, how a book is not going the way it ought to, how they spent all day looking for a single right word and the next day threw the word out. Some call it bleeding on the page. Some give their books curse words for titles, like “The Book from Hell” and the “FB that I am writing” (the B word is book.)

On the other hand, there are a hardy few who absolutely adore the act of writing, and I am one of them. I am never so happy as when the words are pouring out of me in a white heat. I feel productive, pro-active, and pure.

But I have always feared something one of my first editors said to me: “You are a facile writer. Do not be beguiled by your facility.” I have taken that to heart. So anytime I get to feeling complacent about my writing, too full of my own facility, I take a step back and set up a challenge. Maybe it’s trying a screen play or a graphic novel or the lyrics to an opera. Some of these I have managed, some are still a bit out of reach.To be honest, some are completely out of my reach.

This past year the challenge was to write a poem a day, beginning on January 1. I didn’t constrict it any more than that, didn’t say: all poems to be sonnets, or haiku, or verse forms. I didn’t say each poem has to have a central metaphor or an image of nature, or had to be about something real that happened to me. Just this: write a poem a day.

And sometimes two happened.

I also didn’t say the poems had to be good (most were not), or revised endlessly (some were, some weren’t) or that I had to try and get them published (about thirty have been published or purchased for print publication, though altogether the money I made on the 2011 poems I sold would not get me a dinner out with three friends, not even in Northampton, MA, the nearest foodie town to where I live.)

And I knew that out of the 365 plus poems, I would be lucky to get several dozen that I even liked well enough to want to work on further, or to take a line from to twiddle with elsewhere. I was not doing this to become Poet Laureate of the US or even of Northampton, MA, and knew most of what I wrote in the challenge would never be read by anyone but me.

But I knew the poem-a-day challenge would stretch me, and at the same time would let me see where I tended to be facile–using repeating phrases from one poem to another, or even borrowing from myself in other ways. It also let me see that I tend to like list poems, and sometimes let a rhyme sneak in even when I am not writing a rhymed poem because. . .well, because I like rhyme. And that I overuse alliteration. (See the third paragraph of this IM.) And how often I try to impose form on what is not a formal poem.

Some of the poems I posted online and–to my embarrassment–garnered much more praise than I knew they were worth. Sort of like Samuel Johnson’s cruel and stupid canard comparing women who preach to dogs who walk on their hind legs. “While neither does it very well, it’s surprising to see it done at all.” I am nothing if not ruthless about my own writing.

But I did write three or four pretty good poems along the way.

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