Here are the numbers:
Number of days: 30
Number of finished poems: 30
Number of unfinished drafts I could still work on: 3
Page views in the past month: 2,020 (holy crap!)
Most popular poem: "Charleston" with 116 page views
Least viewed poem: "It is no small matter" with 26 page views
Number of audio recordings I posted: 2
Hours of sleep lost: a lot
But...holy cow, y'all. This meant so much more to me than I thought it would. It feels kinda weird writing about it, actually, because as public as this experience was, the impact feels very private and close to my heart.
I don't know why I decided to do this. I don't know why I felt it necessary to start this challenge on some random day in June and why - unlike all the other times I thought about it - I actually did it. All the way to the end. It's not that I'm not used to seeing things through to completion...other than that huge, boring counted cross-stitch I started in middle school, and the book The Hobbit, I actually can't think of anything I have started and haven't finished. But doing this -- finishing this -- it feels like something important. My heart is here in these words. Thirty days of my heart.
My rules were at the beginning were thus:
1. I am going to try not to expect brilliance or perfection.
2. I will try not to stress about it.
3. I will try to limit myself to 30 minutes on the poem.
4. I will be okay with shitty poems.
5. I will write one poem every day for 30 days.
So, here's the truth. I stressed a little bit. Or maybe a lot. I spent much more than 30 minutes on many of the poems. I was not okay with shitty poems, and I declared many poems that I now like to be shitty upon their initial writing. Actually, I declared every single poem to be shitty. I can't lie. I expected every poem to be brilliant and perfect within the first 2 minutes of it being sprung from my brain. Every single night I posted the poem while saying some version of: "fuck it I'm done with this shitty poem I don't even know why I decided to do this stupid thing anyway this is ridiculous I'm going to bed."
But here's the thing: I did it anyway. Every day. Even when I hated it. Even when I thought I couldn't. Even when it scared the everloving shit out of me.
Because I didn't hate it. I knew I didn't hate it. (Except for a couple moments...there were a few moments of hating it). It wasn't anger or hatred or frustration that made me respond the way I did: it was fear. This project was scary. It made me feel vulnerable in many ways - I had to be okay with writing raw emotion when that was all I had. I had to be okay with writing and sharing things that I found less than perfect, less than "okay," less than I would have previously been willing to share with anyone. I had to write, and name, and process, and explain my emotions while they were still raw. I had to be okay with hearing and sharing my own voice, without time to sit with it and make it technologically beautiful. I couldn't always dress it up all fancy: if I hoped to get any sleep, I was going to have to post it real. It's kinda like going out without make-up, except it feels more like going out without clothes: this is what the real me looks like. It's hard. It's scary. It's vulnerable. It's real.
What I didn't expect, though, was this little exercise would make me feel powerful. But it does. It did. Knowing that I have a collection of 30 poems from the past month, and that they are mine, that they are true, and real, and I alone am responsible for the creation of these small gifts...it makes me feel strong, and powerful, and worthy, and alive. I feel like I have 30 days of evidence of my power. Most importantly, I feel like I have seen the ways this has carried over into my life, just in the past two weeks.
I started this blog in September 2010 and, honestly, I started it out of desperation. That year was my hell year: I was sexually assaulted in March, and was living through some version of a literal hell - and I know the definition of the word literal. I was being actively silenced on a daily basis, and I felt powerless. I began writing to attempt to reclaim my power. I did not have a choice. Writing has always been my outlet. For the past 5 years, it has been a necessity. I have said that from day one. It has been 5 years, and the struggle is ongoing -- but I am not where I started. In fact, I am quite far from where I started.
I know I often gush about my love of poetry, and I feel weird about it...like I'm some sort of supernerd or something, you know? I have never met anybody who feels as strongly about this as I do...not that I'm not used to being strange...but reading and writing poetry is the closest thing I know to holy. It is a necessary holy. Think of holy as a verb. Like an action and not an adjective. That kind of holy. A necessary holy through which I find my voice and power. It has saved me, as only the most beautiful, important things can, and it continues to save me. I can't describe the feeling I get when I am engrossed in writing a poem. It's just holy. Scared, awful, painstaking, beautiful, self-critical, ugly, patient, grateful holy.
Having 30 days of necessary holiness feels like a gift I have opened inside myself, and I am in awe of it. I don't mean this to sound conceited -- I am not saying that I am in awe of my words. I am in awe of what poetry can do. I am in awe of what it can do for me. I am in awe of the way that putting words on paper for 30 days creates this sense of being powerful, of being strong, of being worthy. I do not understand it. I just know that, whatever it is, I am grateful and, whatever it is, it is a holy necessity.
So here it is. The final poem. (Side note: the story eluded to in this poem is true. Driving to work this morning, I saw a man fall off his motorcycle and get stuck underneath. I jumped out of my car and lifted up and moved the bike so he could free his leg. I think he's probably a bit banged up -- but okay).
The final poem
I write about being
observed at the park.
I lift a motorcycle off
of a man's leg.
I have nothing left to say
but thank you:
this has been a journey
of scared, beautiful,
this has been a journey
of scared, beautiful,