Speed Poetry: An Experiment

posted in Writing

Speed Poetry: An Experiment

What is Speed Poetry?

A daily, ten minute brain dump of words. I was calling it a throat clearer—that’s also a good description of it, because poetry is a very loose term for what these daily dumps are—but each page does fit certain parameters. Stream of consciousness poetry slams? Throwaway poems? Whatever.

How does it work?

    1. Set timer for 10 minutes
    2. Go to watchout4snakes, and generate a word. This will be the theme.
    3. GO! No judgements, no editing. The goal is simply to write and fill the page as quickly as possible.
    4. Stop clock. Note time. Take photo of poem. Add to gallery on phone.
    5. Do this every day in 2019.

How’s it going?

It was a very shaky start, if I’m being honest. I had (have?) a certain expectation of my writing—that it sort of has to be good—and right out of the gate I was trying SO HARD. It’s embarrassing to look at, but I need to start being on board with it being not OK. After the first ten days or so, I started to calm down, but it was still so—teenage diary? What to do?

The key ended up being the speed part of it. About mid-month, I realized I had to do something to kick my brain out of gear and just let it run free down the mountain of “Oh shit, we’re out of control!” Since I don’t have to think of a theme (the word generator does that), I can just make myself just make myself write as fast as possible and not think of the consequences. It can be a real groaner of an experience, though. Sometimes, I can feel a word approaching from a dark corner and I’ll think: “No! No! NO! Don’t choose that one.” Too late. Gotta dance with the one that brung ya, so I just deal with it on the dance floor. Think less waltz, more jitterbug.

Why are you doing this?

I write every day—but for someone else. It’s great and pays my rent, but by the time I get home, more writing is the last thing I want to do. That sucks, and is no excuse, so this is me writing something just for me. For no real reason other than at the end of the year I’ll have 365 pages of words that may contain some sort of inspiration and lead to something else. Not sure what I’ll do with them from there, but a full notebook will be a beautiful, valuable thing for me. Notebooks are our minds spewed out in front of us. I look forward to picking through my mind vomit.

Who knows, maybe it’ll clear my throat so well I’ll actually get back to the book? [rolls eyes]

For shits and giggles, I’ve decided to share the first month’s-worth, just for a glimpse at how I think it’s evolved. Flipping through, I can see where I loosened up, and the days where I was a little treacle-y. Here they are in all their awkward, ugly-child glory. My experiment laid bare. Funnily enough, the one I liked most in January was one I wrote by the light of my iPhone screen on a flight to Australia (I didn’t want to turn on the obnoxious overhead light). I could barely see what I was scribbling—maybe that’s the secret? Tiny tables and writing in the dark? I’ll keep you posted, but last count I was 52 poems in. Now THAT’S habit-making progress.

Clock was stopped at 2:41 to go with this one. The fastest one in January (20th) was stopped with 4:21 to go. Will I ever break the 5 minute mark?

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