New Year, New Project: announcing Poetry 20:20


Yes I know it”s not Dec 31st, but I”ve long felt that for me the new year starts in autumn:  when the lazy summer days are over (supposedly – not this year though!) and a bite of cold in the mornings gets me thinking about preparing for winter. And of course teaching reinforces this: in the past seven days I”ve had my first classes at P&G Wells (still a few places left on these by the way), at Winchester Uni, and started to talk on email to my new Open Uni A215 students. Oh, and there”s the whole massive revolutionary life-changing newness of going full-time as well.

So in the general spirit of newness, I”ve decided to try a new kind of writing project. The working title is Poetry 20:20. Inspired by Calum Kerr”s 31 and Flash365, for the month of October I”m going to be writing a new poem every day – though unlike Calum, I”m going Monday to Friday only, because at the weekends I try to stop being a writer and be a normal person instead. 4 weeks of that makes 20 poems in 20 days.

I”m really excited about taking this on. To begin with, it”ll be great just to be writing that much. I”ll be putting writing at the forefront of my working day, where it always ought to be, and sometimes isn”t. But more than that, I”m going to use Poetry 20:20 to broaden my writing. For the last couple of years I feel I haven”t been pushing myself enough as a poet: I”ve been too happy to slip into an easy groove of quotidian subject matter, anecdotal structure, free verse form, and my own conversational voice. I want to give myself a kick to get out of that groove – several kicks actually! So I”ve made up some rules for myself that should do just that.

Subject matter and prompts

Each week:

  • 1 poem will be about my baby daughter – because she”s been around for 16 months and I haven”t written enough about her.
  • No more than 1 poem will be based on my direct observation – see above re grooves and kickings.
  • 1 poem will be prompted by Neither tolerance nor physical addiction to seem to occur, so sniffing it occasionally should be quite safe. a news story of that day – because it”ll get me out of my Winchester bubble.
  • 1 poem will start from a prompt given randomly by someone else (please email/tweet/send yours!) – because that”s always fun
  • 1 poem will be prompted by a poet or poem I”ve been reading for the first time that week – because writing starts with reading.


Each week, in order to make me really work:

  • 1 poem will be in free verse
  • 1 poem will use strict rhyme and metre
  • 1 poem will be in syllabics
  • 1 poem will use some kind of Oulippian-style constraints to create a form
  • in 1 poem I get a free choice.

Other stuff

And each week, to make sure I don”t write in the same style all the time:

  • At least 1 poem will use a voice and/or persona that is not my own
  • At least 2 of the poems will avoid first person
  • At least 1 poem will make a wild, surprising, or transcendent imaginative connection (DON”T ask me to define that)
  • 1 poem will be roughly Imagist in style, eschewing expository or explanatory material as much as possible.
I”m going to put the poems up each day in the private Facebook group: Brian Evans-Jones”s Poetry 20:20. Do come along and join in: I”ll appreciate your comments or just the fact that you want to read what I”m doing. Looking forward now to Monday and the starting gun… I think!

Image from Verpletterend Used under Creative Commons.




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