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My Year Long Writing Project

So. Thinking it would help prod me to start blogging regularly again—and, specifically, to start blogging about all things poetry and writing—I asked to be included in the Poetry Blogging Network, that Kelli Russell Agodon maintains on her website. I had every intention of starting back in January a series of posts about my experience reading Voices Within The Ark: The Modern Jewish Poets, which has been on my shelf since I bought it in the late 1980s. It’s a massive anthology of international Jewish poetry, the likes of which I don’t think has been published since, and while I have no doubt that it is in many ways dated, making my way, however slowly, through its 1,172 pages felt like an important thing to do since I have lately been thinking more and more about how my own work might be read and understood as Jewish poetry.

Then I discovered Blot, a blogging platform that is so much simpler than Wordpress and so much closer in spirit to the way I think about the kind of writing that blogging is, that I decided to switch platforms. That process, however, took a lot longer than I thought, since it involved moving not only my website, but also the site I maintain for First Tuesdays, the reading series I run in the neighborhood where I live. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and I do not need to tell you how that turned my life upside down—though I have been much less harder hit than others—so it was not until last night that I finally got this, my new Blot-site fully up and running. You are reading, in other words, my new site’s inaugural post, as well my first post as part of the Poetry Blogging Network—which I hope others are keeping up with as well. (That’s the next thing I want to do: go through the list of blogs to see what others are writing about.)

I was sorry not to be able to blog during National Poetry Month. I was very happy, though, that I managed to write if not exactly a poem, then at least something that might become a poem, each day. In fact, writing something each day is what I’ve been trying to do since the beginning of the year, a commitment I made to myself in late December 2019, when I decided I needed a writing project the formal and/or conceptual boundaries of which did not have at their center a particular content or explicit question that I wanted to explore. I had stepped into the McNally Jackson bookstore on Prince Street in Manhattan to get out of the rain, and I was absent-mindedly looking through some of the day planners they had for sale: weekly, yearly, one-day-per-page, one-week-per-page, spiral bound, perfect bound, some with hard covers and stitched signatures. Feeling the weight of those books in my hands made me a little nostalgic for my old Filofax and the way my handwritten schedules and the notes I kept reflected back at me something of who I was when I used them, which I cannot say about the digital calendar I rely on now.

At some point, I picked up a yearly, page-per-day planner from Leuchtturm1917 and when I turned randomly to the middle of the book, it hit me. This was what I’d been looking for.

Something about the design of the page, the color and weight of the paper, clarified things for me: I decided I would commit myself to writing something each day—prose, poetry, it didn’t matter—but I would not write more than could fit within the frame of a single day’s schedule (including the notes section, of course). I also decided I would not look back at anything I’d written until the year was finished (though it’s actually a little more than a year, since the planner starts on December 30, 2019 and ends on January 3, 2021). And that’s my year long writing project. I’ve missed a few days here and there, but I figure even those lacunae will become part of whatever I end up making from the 365-plus entries I will have once January 3, 2021 rolls around.

For now, I’m not worrying one bit about what that might be. I’m just enjoying the process for its own sake.

Up next “My Companion’s Scent Seeped Into Me” - National Sa’di Day Reading Mark Nowak’s “Social Poetics:” Thinking About The First Tuesdays Cento and A ‘Flipped Script’ Poetry Reading
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