I’m now in day 4 of the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project and I’ve just sent in my poem. Over the past few days, I’ve put the rough draft on this blog and the first revision to the Project, and I thought I should talk a little about what I’m doing and why.
When I first volunteered, I was told that they were more interested in the process than anything else, and this got me thinking. Since then, the nine of us have been introduced to each other over email, and we’ve started a series of conversations about the project, our progress, etc.. This has been great. I haven’t had such a positive experience since my MFA.
But before that I had decided that I would post the rough draft, in part because of what I read in the fundraising materials about what others had done. Beyond that, I thought it would be a good idea because if I sent a revision (which I was going to do anyway) to the Project, it would provide my readers with 1) two versions of the same poem and 2) a peek into my initial thinking about this poem and what the rough draft was telling me as I was writing. In my MFA, I tended to submit the third or fourth version of a poem to workshop, mostly because I had more time. In this Project, we’re doing a poem a day, which gives me one shot at a revision, but these two versions are often where most of the most exciting conversations between a poem and me occur. I have an idea and write it down. The poem says, this is what I’m about, to which I reply, you mean this? After that it’s usually a pretty boring negotiation. So this stage is really more like the first date.
Of course, some/most/all of the 30 will be subject some sort of revision later, and God willing, publication. As mentioned earlier, I hope that some/most/all will find a place in Ohana, which is about 25 poems short, including 2/3’s of the Ridgeline poems. In any case, it’s been a pretty amazing experience at the outset. We’ll see how I feel down the homestretch.