For the past twelve years I have joined with other local Massachusetts poets in writing a poem a day in November. We sign up readers who pledge a certain amount per poem to aid a local charity: the Center for New Americans in Northampton, MA. It was a wonderful scheme invented by the then Northampton poet laureate, Leslea Newman., a dear friend of mine.
After that first November, I realized that—while I was lucky to get two or three really good (after many revisions) poems, that the exercise gave me much more than that. I had pushed myself to think as a poet for thirty days in a row, not just occasionally when an idea popped into my head or I had time I could steal from other projects.
Like a piano student’s fingerwork, the every-day poem gave me a poetic flexibility I’d lost. So, I determined then to try and write a poem a day for a year. Now I’m about to start the thirteenth year. Along the way, the majority of the poems have been consigned to the back files, most likely never to be seen again by anyone except masochistic scholars. But about five or six hundred of the poems year have already been published—after considerable revisions–in journals, magazines, in my adult poetry collections as well as in anthologies, and even upcoming children’s books. Some have been retrofitted and made into picture books.
And yet. . .and yet. . .some piece of the year-long puzzle seemed missing.It took me a whiole to figure out what. The reader’s response. When one of my poetry subscribers occasionally wrote back, telling me that the day’s poem was life-changing (or at least day-changing) I knew I’d written something that had the ability to sneak into the armor chinks, slip under the lowering portcullis. It has been happening more and more, and makes me eager to write the next poem. And the next.
So, I developed a cunning plan: “A Poem A Day/ A Book a Month”. I offered to write and send out a new poem a day for the year to subscribers who pledge to buy one of my books at month’s end from a local bookstore or take one out of the library to read.
And if you want the same, sign up here: http://eepurl.com/bs28ab