So for those of you who missed it (probably deliberately), on Friday I did my yearly 100 Poems In A Day challenge. You can read the poems I wrote here.
I actually think this is the pantsest crop of poems I’ve written in all five years. Which is fine. I mean, the bar was set spine-snapping-limbo-ly low, so they’re bad even by bad standards, but I’m glad I tried it. I feel like I learned a bit more about myself as a poet and a writer. It was hard! And I got one or two nice lines out of it.
For some reason I dropped into quite a repetitive ‘weird short story’ vibe and never really emerged from it. I realise poems can be – and usually are – much more than this. I’d really like to sit down with a bunch of poets, one at a time, and have a chat about what a poem actually is, or what a poem should do. I’d like to have another go at doing 100 poems and actually attempt a variety of styles or ideas, instead of just hitting the same surreal anecdote mode again and again.
Still, for what it’s worth, going through the process and making these sort of observations and discoveries feels valuable for me, as a writer and a lover of poetry. It makes me stop and think about the whole bizarre concept of arranging freely-available words in certain combinations, then claiming ownership rights over that formulation and requesting people pay you in return for reading that sequence. What an odd, odd social exchange.
Quite a few other poets had a go too, and many succeeded! May I point you to Claire Trévien’s efforts? They’re sickeningly good. Trust me – just the physical effort of typing 100 poems consecutively is a brutal, brutal challenge. To actually manage to have something to say while you’re doing it, to come out with surprising, interesting language and a real whip-smart succession of ideas? Crikey.
See, this is why I always felt ambivalent about other poets’ joining in. It’s wonderful to see the idea taking off, but they’re all much better at than me. Here are Sarah Thomasin’s 100, MC Mixy’s 100, and Andy Bennett’s. Have a click through (don’t just read number 100, which is usually the moment when the poet’s frayed brain ruptures and turns to putty) and remember that all the titles were suggested via Twitter, email and Facebook. Thanks if you suggested some!
This week I have gigs in Bristol, London and Sheffield.
On Monday I am in Bristol at the Old Vic.
On Wednesday I’m doing the final Homework of the year, in London at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club.
On Thursday I’m in Sheffield, doing a night called The Shipping Forecast.
On Friday I’m London again, doing Pagematch at the Roundhouse.
These are more or less my final gigs of the year! I might squeeze in a couple of small ones during December, but it’s mostly going to be resting, reading and recuperating time for me. Hope to see you about!