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30/30 Project

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I just found out that I'll be one of the poets participating in the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project for April. This is doubly exciting because April is National Poetry Month and the 30/30 challenge, a fundraiser for a national non-profit literary press, is a major venue. I'm also a little (okay, a lot) nervous because I tend to write slow, and I'll be writing and posting a new poem every day. Warts and all. My goal is to raise $350 for the press. I'll set up a blog and detail progress for anyone that wants to play along. This should be an interesting challenge!


BTW, it's an American Press and National Poetry Month is an American thing. I didn't think of this till just now, this being a multi-national forum. The rest holds true.


Edit: It's difficult trying to corral everything with separate posts, so I'll post links here.



Fundraising page: https://tupelopress.networkforgood.com/projects/190139-steve-mueske-s-fundraiser


Official Tupelo Press 30:30 Project page (updated every morning, but places newer work above older work): https://www.tupelopress.org/the-april-2023-30-30-project/

Edited by Steve Mueske
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I always find such challenges interesting in that they force the pace. I struggle with them though because though they provide benefit to the writer, they do so with a fairly arbitrary limitations. They seem a poor man’s artistic development.


At the same time they feel like an important lesson I learned within a drawing/painting environment. The lesson had several teaching moments focused around one essential task. There was two big take aways.


In essence the lesson was to replace expensive paper and art materials with newspapers and charcoal. Lesson one was to help the artist overcome the fear of making the wrong mark and potentially becoming frozen into inaction. Another potential negative from expensive paper and materials was that the hesitancy and undermining of confidence actually caused the problem that inaction was kind of preventing, ie causing errors.


The exercise in full was to use inexpensive materials, pin up 20 sheets of newspaper onto a drawing board. The artist was then set very short periods to capture images in front of them, say 1 min to 5 mins absolute max. The artist has to draw quickly, trying to have the pen as an extension of the brain, connected directly to the eye and the mind’s eye. As soon as the time was up the page was ripped down, crumpled up and tossed. It was a great exercise for removing hesitancy, for improving hand-eye coordination, to remove rumination prevarication. Instead capture what the eye sees. It was also very useful for addressing artist issues with perspective and relative scale.


Uktimately it helps you to not be so precious as an artist, writer, creative. It encourages the courage to make marks. It’s better to try and make a less than optimum mark than it is to deliver no mark because you are still standing, looking.


These 30 in 30 style writes complicate it by not making the works disposable. They are also longer. Still, I imagine they are at least partly useful for stagnating musicians or writers to get passed inaction. Fun too.


Ideally I think writers and artists need writer/artist development, encouraging them to try new ideas and techniques, over a wide range of skills and experience with the aim of improving songwriting, across different skill sets and experience to produce more rounded creatives able to draw on more depth and breadth and able to appreciate that inaction is often the enemy.


I hop you enjoy it Steve. Do you have any personal goals relating to this? Is it just fun, or does it fit into your plans somehow?

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Thank you for your detailed response! Your experience with the art exercise is interesting.


A couple things might be worth noting. During April many poets already write a poem a day in an exercise that is called NaPoWriMo here in America. It's not seen, typically, as something merely to do to learn a lesson or for the expansion of craft lessons (although, sure, the latter can be a goal). It's mostly a celebration of an artform with few actual readers.


I already have two books out, and writing is a regular practice. The difference, in this situation, is the stage and the context. This project has a national audience and is intended to be a fundraiser for a non-profit literary press. In a sense, it's a way for me to donate time, meaningfully. I'm also curious about sustaining energy, ways to keep producing from the context of daily living.


Because it's a visible stage, there are pressures. My goal only is to keep generating material and to learn from this pressure to produce by looking at the entire process from a meta-standpoint. What do I learn each day? How many times can I pull a rabbit out of a hat?


The poems are taken off their website after 60 days. I will delete my blog posts as well. I'm just trying to take full advantage of the opportunity, hopefully write a few good poems, and provide some insight into the process each day for lay readers and anyone interested in the process.


Thank you so much for asking these interesting questions!



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The final piece for the month is a video poem.



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