30/30 Project: Poets talk about their experience!

30/30 Project logo. Description: a branch with teal leaves inbetween "30" and 30" in art deco font. "Tupelo Press" right below

Many of our participating poets have contributed their thoughts about what this project has meant to them. We treasure these responses enormously, and through them have learned much about how important community is for us as writers, and especially as poets. In addition, we’ve listened and adapted our project throughout the past nine years and gained over 500 alumni. We welcome you to listen to their experiences!

We hope you consider reading their work and supporting these courageous authors. Each took up the challenge to write a new poem every day, post it for the public to read without edit,  often creating new readers of poetry in their sponsors through the process.

We have a series of recorded interviews with one of our May 2013 poets, Christine Starr Davis. We hope you enjoy her enthusiasm and stories.

Interview Part I  – “Is that a poem?”

Interview Part II  –  Fundraising,  a surprise bonus, and the gifts that can be gained from this project!!

Is that a poem?  An ambassador for poetry!

After the project is over  –   “I will never again question that I am a poet.”

Poets Talk:

“Nothing could have prepared me for how hard it is to throw these babies out there with very limited editing and revision. What a fantastic experience this is, on so many levels. From a creative perspective, I’m challenged to write, every single day. But on a personal level, I’m forced to confront my perfectionism, pride, and fear. I’m so grateful to have this opportunity. The poets I am keeping company with this month are absolutely extraordinary and I have already learned so much about the craft from each and every one of them. ”  (Cortney Collins, March 2019)

“It has been transformative for my writing. I have grown more in a month than I think I have any time I accomplished NANOWRIMO, and maybe near as much as I did during my MFA. It was a stretch, with waves and crests, each of which led in the right direction. I am going to keep this work up. I enjoy my voice on the page and I enjoy my thoughts and feelings organized into verse.”  (Sol Smith, February 2019)

“This month was transformative for me in so many ways — gave me confidence and a greater circle and momentum to keep sharing my work.”  (Monika Cassels, June 2014)

“I’ve had more poetry and prose! accepted for publication after 30/30  than ever before. The energy builds on itself and expands.”  (Barbara March, May 2103)

“The craziest and most magical writing I’ve ever attempted.” (Christine Starr Davis, May 2013)

“As a former journalist, I have always found that writing to a deadline commanded a certain level of attention to the work. Applying this to the creativity of a poem a day, and living a life of full-time employment that often includes writing creatively, has been a challenge, but a worthwhile one on so many levels. I found myself becoming more personal in my poetry than I ever have been before now. It often surprised me, frightened and delighted me, that I could be so frank in such a way, rhymes inserting themselves wherever they liked, images telling stories I have rarely even spoken before. To say that the 30/30 Project has been cathartic would be putting it mildly. It has been so very meaningful in so many ways and the staff support, and that of the other poets of the month has been one of the best and most affirmative aspects of my life.” (J. Peter Bergman – February 2016)

“It’s everything you can ever wish for: a creative jumpstart, arrestive must-have flashes of inspiration, pushing through challenges you never thought you could meet, an affirmation of daily practice and follow through with a commitment,  going to creative places you never thought you could go, and having those breakthroughs you’ve been longing for.  Just learning the daily art of “letting go” will climb mountains for you. Daily practice, like daily sadhana, produces great results.” (ava m. hu – February 2016)

“The 30/30 Project has sharpened my poetry chops and, even better, has been a wonderful immersion into the community of poetry.  Take the plunge, you will be glad you did.”  (Clyde Long – February 2016)

“Writing for 3030 has been one of the most significant steps in my career as an emerging poet. Not only was I forced to write every day, but I could interact with a wonderful community of poets and Kirsten and Marie at Tupelo Press who encouraged me every step of the way. Tupelo is a safe place. Even though you are exposing your rough drafts. This experience jump-started a wonderful year for me last year—more than thirty poems published in various journals. Some of those were 3030 poems I redid. Others were new poems, crafted with the lessons of 3030—attention to form, detail, language. Because of this experience, I reached out to some other poetry communities on the web as was short-listed for an International poetry award this year.

This has been one of the best experiences of my writing life. I liked it so much, I did it twice! It’s something I think every poet should try, for the discipline, for the fellowship, for the sheer pleasure of reading the work of the other poets in your group every day, and for looking over the entire body of work in your month and saying—wow, I was a part of all of that!”  (Joan Leotta – February 2016)

“One of the things I was worried about when I volunteered for the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project (aside from not being able to come up with a poem every day) was that by the end of it I’d have kind of run out of stuff to write. As it turns out, since I’ve finished the project the poems have just been tumbling out so easily.” (Nancy Bevilaqua – July 2014)

“I’ve done lots of other poetry-writing marathons before, but never one as public as this. And writing alongside my fellow marathoners, all gifted poets and many of them well published, set the bar very high for my daily poems. That was daunting at first, but it proved to be a great motivator. I didn’t feel like I could just dash something off; I had to really put in the time to work at every poem, even the oddball ones, and try to make them into something special. Sometimes that was really, really hard, but the pressure turned out to be good for me, and I never would have guessed it. My poetry muscles feel stronger. And baring my soul while juggling chainsaws on a high wire day after day in front of friends and strangers was…well, great. Energizing. Freeing. Fun.”  (Amy Miller – July 2014)

“As challenging as it was to create a brand new poem every day, it was also exciting and exhilarating. I’ve learned that it IS possible to find time to write and to prioritize writing, every single day, no matter how busy my life is. As a generative writing exercise, this has been amazing. I have developed habits and routines which have stimulated the writing process and kept it going, too. I really enjoyed the solidarity of doing this writing challenge as part of a group. The dynamic between the poets was supportive and encouraging. I feel privileged to have worked alongside some really talented people. It’s been an amazing opportunity; thank you, Tupelo!”  (Amy Schreibman Walters – July 2014)

“This has been a wonderful experience and yes, has ‘definitely expanded my community of fellow-writers in a meaningful way.’ I learned some heretofore unknown and surprising things about how my muse works and feel I have crossed a threshold into a deeper relationship with my writing. And how amazing, really, to read the diverse voices of eight other poets everyday for a month.”  (Mobi Warren – July 2013)

“I was used to shutting out ideas that I thought were “not interesting enough.” Instead, I let myself write through all of my ideas and it turned out that some of my rawest impulses became poems that I appreciated very much.”  (Liz Lampman – January 2014 From a blog on Hazel & Wren)

“Thus this project, which gives stage, a literal page, to one’s daily voice, is, to me, a kind of modern-day 18th century Scottish pub or Punic square or London coffeehouse, where people showed up with their manuscripts and shared them, with their recitations . . . . Personally, writing in this project has left me in a state of constant alertness to the possibility of a poem, dwelling, as Dickinson said, in Possibility, “a fairer house than Prose.” It is a new way to share with my family and friends as well–for them to know me–and they are responding to the poems, who have never read my poetry, so it is a new way to know each other and to communicate. And I already am forming in my mind a collection and two chapbooks. So again, thank you–for all you do, for your leadership, for your moxie, for your generous generative vision.” (Barbara Mossberg – February 2014)

“It’s been reminding me of one of the reasons i love reading & writing poetry: discovering meaning by being in process. discovery! if there’s a better feeling out there, i don’t know of it.”   (Carolee D. Bennett – December 2013)

“I hadn’t written in 18 to 20 months before starting this project.  A main reason I signed up was because I needed to write again — I needed to be forced to write again. I am so grateful to Tupelo, Kirsten, Marie, Jeffrey and all my fellow Decembrists. Not only have I been writing, but I’ve been enjoying it again for the first time in a long time.” (Anthony Frame – December 2013)

“This has been one of the most exhilarating poetry experiences I’ve had, to be able to write in the solitude of my own surroundings and yet be supported all along the way by Kirsten Miles, Marie Gauthier, Jeffrey Levine, and all the others at Tupelo, together with fellow December poets.”  (Kyle Laws – December 2013)

“30-30 is a game-changer! Thanks to Tupelo Press and Kirsten for giving writers such a powerful opportunity to learn, grow, and make real progress.”  (Ann Thompson – November 2013)

“There is a concept in Tibetan Buddhism—bardo—that can be understood, I think, as a state of “becoming”. And what is becoming, deepening, for me this month is less separation between writing my poems and living my everyday life.”   (Kate Fadick – December 2013)

“I have written every day for years, but this experience was different, for me resulted in a time-disciplined habit — having the poem mostly in mind as I went to sleep, then waking and writing it. It will be interesting to see what the carryover will be from this month, in many ways. I will remember lines from many poems for a long time…..” (Kathy Alma Peterson December – 2013)

“Yes, it was invaluable to me too, not only the writing opportunity which I’m grateful for, but the connections I’ve made with all of you. Think of it, as a consortium of poets we could positively influence how previously published work is defined by online and print publishers.” (Barbara March  – May 2013)

“I am telling you: that 30/30 gives writers a springboard…” (Mattie Smith –  April 2013)

“Thank you for making it possible for poets and artists to connect and expand, to push ourselves to new limits.” (Emily Rudofsky –  March 2013)

“As challenging as it was to write a fresh poem each day it was many times more inspiring. A life changing process.” (Lisa P Jones – May 2013)

“I loved it! My group taught me so much. And the support Tupelo Press gave us was outstanding. I am forever grateful for this experience.” (Richard O’Brian – May 2013)

“I am grateful for my experience in the 30/30 project. I have received more attention to my writing after having participated, and am incredibly grateful to Tupelo Press for the opportunity. The 30 day challenge also added the joy of daily editing and tinkering to my process.” (Mike McGeehon – January 2013

“I am not a prolific poet and there have been days when I really thought I couldn’t do a thing. I once heard Billy Collins say something to the effect that one should write a poem even when one thinks he or she has nothing to say, in fact especially when there seems nothing to say. Now I get it. That might be just the time when something new might pop up.” (Sally Fisher – June 2013)

“Loving Tupelo’s books and their mission, I’m pretty overjoyed to be a part.  And a highpoint–the $50 donation that my 99 year old neighbor gave. He typed the letter on old-fashioned letterhead, so classy.  … connecting with my community here has been special too, especially with those who’ve asked to see the poems.” (Jacqueline Kolosov-Wenthe  –  June 2013)

“Sometimes it takes me years to ‘finish’ a poem. To see how complete, how artful, how moving [everyone’s]  work is and was each day was very inspiring and spurred me on, particularly on those days when I thought ‘Okay, this is it. You are not a poet. You have been lying to yourself. You have nothing to say.” (Lisa Sampson –  June 2013)

“It’s been an intense and magical month as I’ve stretched muscles I had no idea I still had. I took the plunge knowing how much I dislike writing under pressure and decided to embrace the challenge and it worked. It is so important to stay awake to those ideas and to take time to write them down regardless of how developed they are.” (Lois Jones – June 2013)

“I have a problem of being a meticulous editor of my own work, and it felt good to just publish (and publish and publish) without regarding the editing process as holy.” (James Maynard  –  June 2013)

“I sense that this experience will/has completely changed my approach to crafting my work. I’m already beginning to listen to what I write differently and am coming to value my use of silence in my work. I think that it is something in this process that opens this possibility for my growth as a poet. And to think I started the month thinking it was only about my work having a wider audience and TP raising needed funds.”                (Kate Fadick  – December 2013)

“This project allowed me to experiment with some new techniques. For example, I’d never written an ekphrastic poem before, and during my 30/30 month I wrote two, and I think that they came out all right, and it’s something that I would like to try again sometime. And, of course, it was so lovely to know that I had an audience, and many thanks go out to all those readers.

And beyond that, I have struck up friendships with some of my January cohorts, not to mention the Tupelo staff. We had a very supportive group, and I have heard the same about previous groups. And, of course, it was heartening to see so many meaningful donations from my friends and family.”
(Mike Dockins – January 2014)

“I was able to create work that would have been impossible to unearth otherwise.  I would encourage ANY poet to try this. Not only will your efforts support an independent press that publishes the work of the best talent in poetry today, but you will also stretch your own poetic imagination and discover themes and ideas you may not have thought accessible. (Amy McLellan  – February 2014)

“The more time goes by, the more I value my 30/30 experience.” (Barbara March – May 2013)