30/30, or Writing a Poem Everyday for National Poetry Month

by Donovan Barrow

Since April is National Poetry Month, poets all over the country are pledging/promising/challenging themselves to write a poem everyday. I love a good challenge. Last year, I made it to 17/30 before I threw in the towel. Here’s where I think I went wrong: Everyday, immediately after I felt that I was “done” with a poem (a problematic idea in and of itself), I posted the poem on facebook for everyone to see. At first, I thought it was the best idea I had ever come up with. Write a poem. Post a poem. Get instant praise and feedback. And that’s exactly what happened. A friend from my high school AP World History class commented on a poem. My grandmother gave me rave reviews. Another MFA student suggested that I tighten up some lines. So forth and so on. Before long, though, I began to dread the act of writing and posting my poems. I wasn’t writing the same way anymore. The poems felt different. Something was off.

What was “off” was that I created an audience for my work when I really should have kept the work to myself. When you invite an audience to gaze at work you’ve created that gaze is not passive. Sunlight doesn’t just shine. Light changes what it touches. Similarly, knowing (and welcoming) an audience to read and respond to my poems impacted the experience in a way I hadn’t intended. I got overwhelmed. The poems got watered down. And eventually, I gave up altogether.

So, this time around. I’m writing a poem everyday and keeping them to myself. I wrote a poem yesterday (to warm up) and wrote a poem this morning. They are fierce and they are mine. For the time being, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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6 responses to “30/30, or Writing a Poem Everyday for National Poetry Month

  1. Sounds good to me! This is my first time doing napowrimo and yours is the approach I’m taking this year too! Good luck!

  2. Pingback: What I’m doing for National Poetry Month | Ilse Bendorf

  3. excellent advice to keep these national poetry month poems to myself.

  4. that is really true. i wonder if that is why i quit working on my poems when I did a poem a day challenge in November….

    I posted poems yesterday and today but since I am revising old poems, I’m saving reviewing the comments for later.

  5. I have to agree. This is sound unintentional advice.

  6. Since then, have you ever written a poem every day for a month?

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