August 2016 Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge


In August I am participating in the Tupelo Press 30/30 challenge, a fundraiser for this outstanding nonprofit publisher. I have pledged to write 30 poems in 30 days, and to find sponsors to assist in this endeavor. If you have the time and inclination, please follow along and consider supporting poetry and literary publishers by making a donation. Every bit helps. To make this fun, and with hopes of enticing you, I’ve instituted a few incentives:

Name That Poem! For $10 donation, you provide a title, and I’ll write the poem during the marathon. Be imaginative. Make the title as long or as interesting as you wish – consider this a dare! But this incentive is limited to only thirty titles, and reduces by one every day of the marathon, so reserve your slot soon! Last year’s titles ranged from one word (“Stuck,” “Bent,” “Latitude,” “Katharsis”) to upwards of 80 (“Robert Okaji, Forced By This Title to Write a Poem in Third Person About Himself, Considers the Phenomena of Standing Waves, Dreams Involving Long-Lost Cats (Even If He Has Not Had Such a Dream Himself), And the Amazing Durability of Various Forms of Weakness, In a Meditation Which Following the Form of Certain Sung Dynasty Poets Also Happens to Be Written in a Way That Can Be Chanted to the Tune of a Popular Song of His Youth”), and also included such atrocities as “Calvin Coolidge: Live or Memorex,” “Your Armpits Smell Like Heaven,” and “Reduce Heat and Simmer Gently Without Cloud Cover, Till Sundown. Serves 2 – 7 Billion.” These last three were, of course, among my favorites to write.

Use These Words, Poet! For an $11 donation, you can offer 3 words that I must use in a poem. Why only 3? Because I’m (a) chicken (pawk, pawk!), and (b) I hate relinquishing control of my poetry’s language. Yes, yes, I know. This says horrible things about my character. But look at it this way, you could combine the first two incentives to force me to use your title AND three words that I likely wouldn’t use otherwise, which is about as much control as I’m able to give up (shuddering). Be kind. Or not.

Isn’t Broadside a Military Term? Well, yeah, but in this case it’s also a printed poem. For a $15 donation, you’ll receive sometime in September a signed broadside (printed on 8.5 x 11 paper or card stock) of any of the poems I produce during the 30-30 marathon. Your choice.

Editors, Critique My Poem! For a $20 donation, one of the participating editors, chosen at random, will critique your poem(s) (no more than three pages total, either one poem up to three pages long, a two-page poem plus a one-page poem, or three one-page poems). This is a wonderful (tax-deductible for U.S. participants) opportunity to have experienced lit mag editors examine your work and let you know what they think of it.

Participating editors include: Karen Craigo (whose recently released volume of poetry, No More Milk, is a must-read!), nonfiction editor of Mid-American Review and an associate editor of Gingko Tree Review; Jennifer Finstrom, poetry editor of Eclectica; Jeff Santosuosso, editor of Panoply; Anthony Frame, editor of Glass Poetry Press (which includes Glass: A Journal of Poetry) and poetry editor of Indianola Reviewand Matt Larrimore, Editor in Chief of Four Ties Lit Review.

Think Dink! Thanks to the generosity of Dink Press founder and editor Kristopher Taylor, $30 donation will get you the Dink Press Collection: 3 chapbooks, including my 2015 work If Your Matter Could Reform, Barton Smock’s Infant Cinema, one of the more interesting chapbooks I’ve read in the past year, Jamie Hunyor’s A New Sea, and Tim Kahl’s full length book, The String of Islands. A limited quantity is available, so order earlier rather than later.

If none of these incentives appeals to you, but you’d still like to help, I’m open to suggestions. Last year I sent signed poems to several donors, and even recorded a poem for another’s blog. Don’t limit yourself to the aforementioned incentives. Think big! Let’s have fun!

If you choose to sponsor me, please click on the links to my Tupelo Press 30/30 donation page, or after August 1, visit the 30/30 page, click on the donate button, and then my name. And please inform me of your donation and provide your contact info via email at robertokaji at yahoo dot com or through Facebook so that I may thank you and arrange or send your premium.

If you’ve seen through this blog or other outlets enough of my writing to last your remaining days, you might consider a $99 subscription to Tupelo’s regular subscription series (which I have done), which garners you nine books from one of the country’s top literary presses! This is not tax-deductible, but the quality of writing you receive with this discount is well worth it. If you choose this option, please indicate in the comments that you are subscribing to the 9 books for $99 option, specify “in honor of” and insert my name, “Robert Okaji,” to show your support for my efforts.

For more information on the 30/30 Project, and to read the daily poems, see: I’ll likely post updates daily, but we’ll see. Things are going to be hectic. No matter what, I look forward to reading your comments. Thanks very much!

Many, many thanks to Karen Craigo, Jennifer Finstrom, Anthony Frame, Matt Larrimore, Jeff Santosuosso and Kristopher Taylor for their generous spirits and willingness to help out.

24 thoughts on “August 2016 Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge

  1. That’s a lot of different incentives, Bob. Now, what bank shall I rob so that I can do every single one, including the $99 subscription (a worthy cause to be sure)?! 🙂 [Kidding about my robbery, of course.] These are really clever, creative ideas; I love them. I will definitely participate in at least one. Best wishes as ever, and I’m excited to see the atrocities as well as the . . . ? mundanities (though I shudder to apply this term to your poetry, because it’s never been that)..

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Quick question, Bob (I don’t think anyone else has asked, and maybe others would like to know): as far as the poetry critique, do you think these editors would consider a critique of short fiction (say 500 words or fewer, which is probably closer to 2 pages than to the 3 allowed for poetry) and also at the $20 level? For myself, I could easily make the case that prose/fiction (at least the effective and affecting sort) that pays attention to the musicalities of language—cadence and rhythm, pitch/intensity and timbre and so on—is a worthy goal for the writer. I’m sure any of these editors could engage with and evaluate fiction based on that aesthetic. So, just wondering. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The quick answer is yes. At least one of the five is comfortable with offering feedback on fiction. I’ll ask the others, too, and if a demand pops up, I may attempt to find some fiction editors to help out.


  3. Reblogged this on Leigh's Wordsmithery and commented:
    As the twelve months go, August can be a bit of a Janus. On one hand, you’re looking back to the waning summer (if you’re in the Northern hemisphere) and time spent together with children, on vacation, or out of school. Then, on the other, you’re facing forward, toward all the upcoming possibilities for enchantment, adventure, and learning that the gateway to autumn brings. Here, I am delighted to offer you notice of another chance for enlightenment and fun in the way of 30 days of #poetry by WordPress Press veteran and, if I may call him thusly, the sensei of sound and substance, Texas #poet Robert Okaji. Enjoy the challenge, sponsored by the prosodic treasure-box that is Tupelo Press! (I know I will.)

    Liked by 1 person

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