Embracing Adventure “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~~Hellen Keller

My Experience With Pulitzer Remix

Once again it’s been awhile since my last post. In April, I was busy writing found poems for Pulitzer Remix using Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies as my source text. And I was in school and had to wrap up the last of my assignments for the spring semester over the last couple weeks. Now I have a couple weeks off before summer session starts, so I’m going to try to squeeze in as many posts as I can before then. Today I want to talk a little bit about my experience with Pulitzer Remix. Tomorrow, I’m participating in Mental Health Blog Day. Then I’ll get back to the overseas adventures starting with going to Legoland and staying in Günzburg.

When I was invited to Pulitzer Remix, I’d only written one found poem in my life, and that was for an assignment as an undergrad, and I hadn’t written poems of any type in a long time. So I knew it would be quite a challenge to come up with thirty found poems in a month. I’m glad Germany is six hours ahead of the time zone the poems were due in, because I usually stayed up quite late trying to finish my poem for the day. I managed to keep up until the second to last day when I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore after homework, so I did two on the last day and back-dated the first one. My make up poem was written about PTSD which seemed fitting since it was an analysis of a few PTSD case studies that had kept me busy the day before.

One cool thing about this project was how things just seemed to come together such that I could to write the poems I wanted to write on topics unrelated to the source text. A couple of the poems I was surprised to be able to find in the book besides the one mentioned above were a poem about choosing to be childfree (something I eventually plan to devote a little slice of this blog to, someday) and a zombie poem. While I wasn’t surprised to be able to write about what happened in Boston (and had decided to after I kept seeing Boston come up in the book), I was somewhat surprised to be able to find the words I did.

My interview for Pulitzer Remix

While I had originally planned on trying some different techniques, I mostly ended up sticking with what I started with: pulling lines and words I liked out and grouping them together. As I started to see a poem take shape, then I went to Amazon and used the search inside feature to see if I could find the words I wanted to use. If I couldn’t, then I looked for synonyms. Usually this also lead me to some other interesting words and phrases to use later. I tried to do erasure a couple of times but couldn’t make anything work, so I decided to stick to what was working.

Something I did try that was new to me was the pantoum form which I don’t recall ever learning about before. It was something another poet in the project was doing, and I decided to try it. My first attempt surprised me by coming together pretty quicky, especially compared to later poems that didn’t use a form. I decided to write another pantoum during the project which also came together pretty easily, but I decided to break the rule and add an extra two words at the end.

Overall, this was a fun challenge to undertake for National Poetry Month, and I’m glad I decided to participate. I don’t think I’ve ever written so many poems in such a short period of time, and I have never written that many poems under a set of guidelines. I even found my titles in the text. I did occasionally take advantage of the remix rules in that I was allowed to make something a plural if it wasn’t or change a tense, but I tried to do it sparingly. The most blatant change I probably made was in using the word “remix” in a poem about the project. To do that, I took a part where the author had used the word ‘mix’ and deleted everything back to another word that began with ‘re’.

Another cool thing was the community of poets involved. I got to ‘meet’ and learn from a lot of talented poets. If you haven’t gotten a chance to check out the project yet, you still have a few days to do so. Unfortunately the site goes behind a splash screen May 19th. Fortunately that’s so a manuscript of selected poems from project can be pitched to publishers.

The only downside in participating in the project besides losing a lot of sleep was that it kept me away from another writing community I’ve come to love, that of the blogosphere. Maybe I should participate in National Blog Writing Month this year too…

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