Wednesday, July 31, 2013



I'm a night owl. Always have been, something that made my life hell when I worked for an airline and had to get up for 6AM shifts. Thankfully, that was in another life. (Frankly, it wasn't a lot easier getting up for 9AM start times, either.) 

I've been undecided until now as to whether or not I'd do the 3:15 Experiment this year. It's that poetic torture tryst you make with 3:15 in the morning—in the f'n morning, people!—where you set your alarm, wake up, sit up, grab your pen and notebook and write a damn poem. Seriously. 

Last year I was a slacker. I only managed poems on four days. As I said on the 3:15 website:

Such a poor showing this year. I had two friends die on me and I was left without any desire to write, any ability to write, any reason to write. I went on a big "what's it all about" bender and didn't bring a pen. So be it. Same time next year. 

The first one, obediently produced on August 1, sort of indicates my mood:

With no intention I take up my pen
as the reluctant warrior chooses
his combat weapon.
These are not gophers popping up
these are not coyotes celebrating a kill
these are words, goddammit
and I’m hunting them down
these are ideas I will pin to the page
late butterflies of creation
preparing to be caught in spite of themselves.

Anyway, that was last year and now it's this year and what the hell, I'm going to do it again. The night owl thing be damned. If I go to bed at one in the morning, the alarm's going to ring at 3:15. I've dusted off the book I write in and have located an acceptable pen. (I have to forgo using my favoured Pilot pen. Felt-type pens that can run are not recommended. People have been known to fall asleep while attempting to write, so it's back to ballpoint for me.) 

Here, in case anyone else is equally foolhardy, are the "rules" of the game, as cribbed (and edited!) from the website:

Start by setting your alarm for 3:15AM August 1st. Continue the practice every day through August 31st. Oh, and feel free to jump in anytime during the month.

Write whatever you like, period. There are no hard and fast rules regarding "length, style, form, content, voice, rhythm, etc." The point is to be writing in a hypnogogic (defined as "of or relating to the state immediately before falling asleep") or hypnopompic ("of or relating to the state immediately preceding waking up") condition. 

This next part is important. NO EDITING! That's the whole point of the experiment. The stuff you write will ideally be shared on the website after the month is over (although a lot of people don't) in its original form. Raw. Unedited. I know, it's scary.

The website mavens also suggest that you don't read your poems (other than a quick skim to make sure you can read them later; you're scrawling them in the middle of the night, after all) until September. Sometimes I don't read mine until the next year!

Starting September 1st, transcribe your poems and put them on the 3:15 website where it's very easy to set up your own page. 
After that, you can edit away to your heart's content. Round up your poems and boot them out of the nest in search of new homes. Whatever. I've had a few of mine get published over the years, including one that's in the anthology, between sleeps: the 3:15 experiment 1993–2005.  (I'm not usually part of the cover, but the effect was kind of neat!)

Poetry postcard month is off and running. Participants are encouraged to begin a few days before August, in hopes that by the first of the month you'll have received a card or two whose lines can provide a prompt for the ones you're writing. This has never worked for me as most of the cards I get are from the States and they seem to take a while to get here. No matter. I love to get them whenever they show up. So far this year I've sent off four, and today I picked up a pile of stamps. The ones that work for the USA (when sending from Canada) have porcupines on them this year! 

My blogging may slow down over the next month due to lack of sleep and/or running to the post office. Have a good August!



Linda H. said...

I'd heard of the 3:15 Experiment but never read what it was about. Not sure I could do that. I often don't go to bed until midnight so I would be a bit comatose at this hour. The poetry probably would make no sense.

But WOW! Your poem is amazing. Perfect wording. Is this one in any of your chapbooks or just in the anthology? Excellent work.

Linda Crosfield said...

Thanks, Linda, both for reading and commenting. The poem in this post is just here (as well as on my page at the 3:15 site). I'd actually forgotten about it until I was writing this post. The one in the anthology? A strange little poem called "Tinsel Twinkletoes". I was into giving them titles back then. Now I'm happy if I just manage to crank one out!