2010 Poetic Asides November PAD Chapbook Challenge- Update

Last month, after seeing my comment that I had not yet re-read any of the poems I wrote for the 2011 Poetic Asides November PAD Chapbook Challenge, Carolee Sherwood suggested that I should do a blog post when I finally did, with what I discovered. Here, belatedly, is that post. I was so immersed in real life this past month, with “the kids” visiting, puppy troubles, holiday hoopla, and whatnot, that I didn’t do all that much poetry-wise. Imagine!

And then yesterday as I glanced at my new engagement calendar sitting so nicely on my desk, I realized with horror that Wednesday is the deadline for chapbook submissions, and here I hadn’t even looked at the poems yet, let alone selected, edited and compiled them into a chapbook. However, I’m not as worried as I could be, since: 1) This is a strictly optional activity anyway, and 2) I know I work best under pressure.

What did I discover? Well, as always, after a challenge, I realized that it is truly amazing that I actually completed the challenge, notwithstanding that some of my efforts were less than stellar. I discovered a handful of gems, a much larger number that I’m reasonably satisfied with, and others that were “of the moment” and I’m ready to let them go. I am also particularly proud that I experimented with many new forms: pantoums, triolets, cascades, blitzes, and Fibonaccis, just to name a few. Some new forms I found awkward, while others (like the triolet) have become firmly entrenched in my arsenal of new tricks.

I am reminded yet again of why I do these challenges, even when they sometimes threaten to gobble up what little discretionary time I have. By focusing on the process, rather than the product, I stretch myself as a writer, keep company with a fine group of poets, and produce a growing number of “keepers”. What more could any poet ask for?

On to the sorting phase, where my poems will be place in three (virtual) hoppers: “definitely in”, “maybe in”, and “definitely out”. Should be fun!

Big Tent Poetry Reading

In all the years that I’ve lived in Portland, 19 to be exact, I had never visited the St. Johns Booksellers or even been to the St. Johns part of town before– at least until today. It was a Big Tent Poetry reading that drew me there. I had a lovely, if tortuously twisty and turny ride through Forest Park, to get there there, but it was worth it. It was fun to discover that not only is there an indie bookstore, but there was a Saturday Market going on as well, right next store. In fact, the poetry reading series is offered in partnership with the market.

Today’s reading featured four poets from Big Tent Poetry, one of my favorite online poetry websites. It was only recently that I discovered through the latest Voicecatcher newsletter, that Deb Scott, one of the three co-founders of Big Tent Poetry, lives right here in Portland. So of course that made this a must-see event for me. Joining Deb were Carolee Sherwood, another Big Tent co-founder, visiting from New York, and local poets Tiel Aisha Ansari and Dale Favier. The poetry was wonderful, the turnout great, and the venue was perfect. A morning of poetry– what better!