Dear friends and poetry lovers, the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project for July is wrapping up this coming week. I’m doing well but have not yet reached my goal. Please check out the poems–there are wonderful pieces by (in alphabetical order) Alexandria Beers, C.W. Emerson, Sara Femenella,Tobey Kaplan, yours truly, Juan Morales, Carrie Nassif, and Kenneth Wagner. Anything you can spare, please go to http://tupelopress.wordpress.com/3030-project/, click “Donate”; fill in your personal information, and in the “30/30 Poet” box, select “Kathleen McCoy” to credit my fundraising goal. . . . While you’re at it, be sure to scroll down on the main part of the web site to view the whole month’s poems by all of us. Thank you!
The 30/30 Project, 30 poems in 30 days, is halfway over already. I’ve been thrilled, stunned, encouraged, puzzled, stymied, and ultimately inspired so far this month. This project propels poets into perpetual motion: when we’re not jotting notes or phrases or dream images, we’re dashing about our daily lives to hurry back to the page, the screen, the task. I can give you many reasons to give to this indie press fundraiser (see below), the best of which is that it’s a win-win-win: it helps Tupelo Press sustain its award-winning publication of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction; it helps poets by giving us a readership and (temporary) publication; it helps donors by offering tax deductions for your charitable contributions (the exception is if you subscribe to the year’s worth of poetry books). If you haven’t given and would like to, please go to http://tupelopress.wordpress.com/3030-project/ and click on “Donate” and “Honor”; in the latter spot, name “Kathleen McCoy” to help me get to my goal of $400. I’m less than halfway there, and time is running out.
While you’re there, check out the poems. Our voices are distinct; our subjects vary; our styles stand out. You’ll read about memory, love, pain, mourning, joy, anger, war, teaching, indecision, nature, urban life, parenting, dogs, research, travel, mummies, zombies, exercises in imagery and language usage, and many more subjects.
Then take the 30/30 as inspiration for yourself. Commit to creating whatever it is you create–poems, stories, souffles, parties, research, songs, gardens, experiences. Commit for a day, a week, a month. The rewards you’ll reap are rich as the berries the birds haven’t yet plucked.
My latest effort for the 30/30 Project, “Raw/War,” is featured on the site today–a taste of poetry, peace, and palindromes. . . . I hope you’ll enjoy that and the work of my impressive peers on the site.
I’m also gearing up for September 26th, when we’ll ask the world to think about war, peace, our green planet, and role the arts can play to make our time here more meaningful, peaceful, poetic. See 100 Thousand Poets for Change on Facebook.
Here’s to peace, poetry, and palindromes.
If you enjoy the raw process of sharing lightly revised fresh drafts, you’ll really enjoy the 30/30 Project by Tupelo Press. (If you can donate, please be sure to put “Kathleen McCoy” into the “Honor” box to credit my fundraising goal, but even if you can’t donate, please visit the site and read our work.) Here is my latest contribution. So far, I’m keeping up. It’s a great challenge for me. I’ve always been more like Elizabeth Bishop who wrote that she preferred to average one finished poem a year than to churn them out–but that approach won’t get your work out there anymore.
If you’re not sure whether contributing is worth it, I can show you why with a handout from CLMP, shown below.
COUNCIL OF LITERARY MAGAZINES & PRESSES © Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, 2003.
Why Support Independent Literary Publishing?
Jeffrey Lependorf, Executive Director Council of Literary Magazines and Presses
Independent literary publishers are mission-driven—they focus on publishing literature.
Independent literary publishers provide access to the voices of entire communities.
Independent literary publishers produce over 98% of poetry being published each year, and the majority of literature in translation and works of fiction by emerging writers.
Placing the cause and calling of literature ahead of the bottom line, independent literary publishers serve as a primary link between writers—particularly those representing emerging voices, culturally specific communities, and literary art forms not fostered by mainstream publishers—and readers. Independent literary publications create an enduring record of cultural activity, and they provide an essential alter- native to the voices heard through large-scale, commercial publishing. Nearly a thousand primarily non- profit literary magazines, presses, and online publishers can be found across the country, in every state, serving hundreds of unique audiences. Ultimately, they connect diverse communities of readers who would remain otherwise isolated from their living literary heritage.
Currently, the fruits of independent literary publishing remain unknown to the larger public—the com- munity of readers. Nonprofit literary publishers as a whole have been grossly neglected by most private foundations and positioned as marginal within the arts in general. Most independent literary publish- ers lack the marketing muscle of their commercial counterparts and often struggle to compete within the larger publishing arena. Nonprofit literary publishers require support to fulfill their missions: to bring exceptional literature into the hands of caring readers.
Supporting the work of independent literary publishers provides readers everywhere with access to new literary voices and ensures that America’s evolving literary heritage remains diverse and vibrant.
For 35 years, the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses has provided technical assistance to and advo- cated on behalf of independent literary publishers. CLMP guides literature through the business of publish- ing and engages diverse communities of readers through a variety of public programs.
Part of the risk and exhilaration-cum-embarrassment of writing daily and posting daily for the 30/30 Project is the sudden realization (after hours of drafting and editing) that two more tweaks would make a huge difference in your fledgling poem-child. Here’s today’s post, with alterations. If you’d like to support this nonprofit endeavor, please go to 30/30 Project, click on “Donate,” and be sure to mention “Kathleen McCoy” in the “Honor” field to credit your gift toward my fundraising goal. Happy trails. . . .
Rush Pond Trail / Kathleen McCoy
The other day my daughter showed me
I had to slow her down so we could talk,
allow the woods to shield us from obsessing
on the news. She flicked her flopping ponytail
behind her, smiled—she’d meet me later
at the house—plugged in her music, jogging on,
knowing the trail but not which branch to choose.
My music came from red-eyed vireo and thrush.
Felled white birch bits rested in a bed
of ferns in a room with green couches
of mossed maple; then I saw the forties roadster
careened into a trunk and left to rust,
right door missing, now nest for raccoons,
rabbits, squirrels. Eventually I reached the bridged
marsh, largely green and blooming with water lilies
and the unabashed purples of swamp milkweed.
What pilgrims trekked these woods
before the path was cleared? Acclimated
woodsmen, sticky wood-wise children, herb-
smart women, broad aprons for sacks?
Today my girl is purple wildflower, floating lily,
hers the chatter of invisible vireo, ethereal
song of wood thrush reverberating in the pines;
I, the rusty car, part of my right side missing,
open to air and moss and the steady passing-by of life
in all its forms. Tomorrow I will be the bed of ferns,
the green couch greeting her upon return
from her shadow-laced trail of song and surprise.
Poets know black holes. Our heads are full of them at times. As are our houses. And our calendars. Or is it just me?
I’m focusing on white holes at the moment. True, to discuss them “we may have to go out on an astronomical limb” (PBS Nova, “Are White Holes Real?”); nevertheless, the concept of an inverse to the life/time/sanity/existence-sucking power of a black hole–something that emits Hawkian radiation, a kind of poetic, albeit theoretical, brilliance–entices. It offers hope. Yes, there are holes you can’t get out of, cosmic joy-sappers, but there just may also be voids of creation, or at least light-emission zones. And if they’re out there in the cosmos, the writer speculates, maybe, just maybe, they’re also in here (the hapless poet taps her temple for emphasis).
My point is that I’m back to blogging and writing, after a hiatus for life-coping, job-learning reasons of little interest to fellow poets and writers. You all have them: times when illness, death, surgery, family needs, learning curves, job challenges (yours or your mate’s), pets, political tension, finances, and general entropy seem to conspire against the odds of your pumping extra creative juices through your cerebrum. Your black-hole times.
That’s precisely when it’s time to declare a White Hole Time.
During July, I’m participating in the 30/30 Project of Tupelo Press, committed to writing 30 poems in 30 days. This will mean a number of things, including but not limited to the following. (1) No excuse short of personal coma will keep me from writing daily this month. (2) No procrastinating. Writing comes first. (3) Perfectionism has been given the boot. While aiming for quality, 30/30 poets have to press on, trusting their guts and knowing the revision will continue after the poems are posted. (4) My family, assured repeatedly of my enduring love, will have to deal with wife/mom who lives in her home office and lets the dishes pile up until bedtime. Occasional muttering must be tolerated.
I would be delighted if you would consider donating toward my fundraising goal. Be sure to name “Kathleen McCoy” in the “Honor” box to credit my goal for the 30/30 Project. If you would have a subject you’d like me to write about, leave a comment. It’s an exciting endeavor, gathering poets from across the country who write in a variety of styles and support one another throughout the month–all to help out an award-winning independent press that publishes high-quality poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.
This week, the SCOTUS surprised and delighted us with its vote for marriage equality. There are rainbows everywhere. And in undertaking 30/30, I realize there are real benefits for the “marathon poets” who participate. We are creating a virtual space where we can focus on white holes, rainbows, sparrows–anything that engages, enrages, delights, or endures our attention.
Suddenly, my teenage daughter is focusing on her summer homework! When I took a moment to praise her, she shrugged it off with, “Well, it’s easier when you’re out of the way.” Permission to retreat can be bittersweet.
Art should be for all of us. It’s an expression of love, passion, curiosity, longing, faith, doubt, unity, dissent–all the thoughts and emotions that help us embrace our humanity. Take a moment to check out the 30/30 Project. It’s art for all of us.