It is nearly the time of year again for NaPoWriMo (started by the delightful Maureen Thorson), where various unfortunates will write one poem a day for the month of April and post it on their blogs.
I participated in 2006, writing two poems a day, and it nearly did me in. I hadn’t done a marathon like that since my undergrad thesis, when I had to write 32 poems in a month in half (all of which are now extremely defunct) during the fall semester, and then again during the spring semester. The latter-day NaPoWriMo was a lot more exhilarating: 40 minutes for two rough drafts in the morning, 40 minutes to revise them in the afternoon. I’d say that it’s nice to know I can do it if I have to, but I fail to come up with even one hypothetical situation in which it would be necessary. Revision, maybe, but that’s different. Poetry is easily the furthest afield of any of the written disciplines from such pressures, as our product is only minimally economically successful, and the market is blessed with a surfeit of practitioners. (Only the demand for skilled phrenologists is lesser, frankly.)
This year, you can participate in a pledge drive. This makes me feel obscurely disheartened. ("Money and poetry! A combination no one’s ever thought of!") I notice that NaNoWriMo has a Wikipedia entry, but NaPoWriMo has none. Fie. See earlier comment about marketability.
I’ve been trying to think of similar triathlon-style events in literature. I’m sure that somewhere out there are haiku marathons, and some kind of infinitely recursive sestina competition. (This has nothing to do with anything, but a “tanka” always sounds to me like some kind of explosive device.) Like everything else on the web, the mere absence of such things is often enough to serve as the catalyst for them. The internet is nothing if not a physicist’s wet dream of biofeedback.