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Why I’m Writing a Poem a Day for Thirty Days

By July 6, 2017July 8th, 2017Writing

When I realized I was called to be a poet, the low hanging despair I felt since I was a girl who was raised as a fundamentalist, with every last mystery answered, began to dissipate because poetry led me right back to mystery. It lead me to I-don’t-know-mind as one word lead to the next and the next after that. There would always be another poem to make. My brother could tickle songs from his guitar, but I could not make music with an instrument, though I was fascinated with making language sing, the beats of sentences. I tried painting but had no gift for it, but I could draw images with words.

I wrote poetry because typing and retyping prose was too much work. As a first year college student, my whole class schedule shouted that I might have a call to be a poet. I began to shape my life around this work. My creative writing teacher said I had a gift, but it was humble like the boy bringing two loaves and five fishes to Jesus, who broke the bread and fed five thousand. And Madeleine L’Engle said she thought I might have a gift. She seemed like she’d walked in from a foreign world more glorious than ours. I went on to poetry school, earned my MFA and wrote poems.

When computers replaced typewriters, I began writing sentences, essays and novels. When I noticed there were fewer novels entered in the literary contests than poetry manuscripts I started to edge my way into early drafts of The River Caught Sunlight as well as other drafts of memoirs and sequels. But since I had a completed poetry manuscript, The Grieving Dreams, that I shelved years ago, I began marketing it because I thought it deserved to breathe.

That’s how I made my acquaintance with Tupelo Press. I sent the collection and received the kindest rejection suggesting that I resubmit the book because different readers will evaluate it. I figured that I’d be donating to a worthy cause and buying a little hope by sending the collection out again. (I have never been good about sending out work.) A friend told me once to delight in the drawing the bowstring back and shooting the arrow, that the sending out can be its own reward.

In their newsletter Tupelo invited me to submit work for their 30/30 program, which means I need to write thirty poems in thirty days. I sent them three statuses I’d written in 2013 about a terrible snowstorm that open my unpublished memoir Winter to Winter and was startled that they accepted my work into this program.

This is a fundraiser much like biking so many miles to raise money for cancer research or MS. My poems will be published on their blog under the 30/30 tab in along with six other poets. Right now I’m thinking of using this as an exercise to write my horse memoir, which has been brimming, wanting me to write the story. I’m a slow writer who believes in revision, so you’ll probably be seeing a lot of very rough drafts. And I might fly off into other subjects like I do here on this blog.

As an independent press publishing excellent work, Tupelo Press is worthy of your support. Publisher, Jeffrey Levine writes, “At the midpoint of our eighteenth year — and nearly 200 volumes into our life — Tupelo has not only been a champion of emerging writers, but we have given a special place of prominence to women and to writers of color. For example, nearly 2/3 of our books have been authored by women. This is an astonishment in the world of publishing.

“Tupelo has published truly significant work, including brilliant translations, from writers around the globe, including Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, North America, and South America.”

My first poems for them are posted here:

I hope you’ll consider supporting Tupelo Press at:



  • Lynn D. Morrissey says:

    Wow! What an amazing challenge, Katie, and for a worthy cause. You remind me of my poet friend, the late Louis Daniel (LD) Brodsky. LD wrote a poem a day for many years, publishing multiple books. He lived his life in poetry and how he discovered it was a tale in itself. I love how you discovered poetry, and to receive such a compliment from Ms. L’Engle is extraordinary (a story you’ll have to tell on the blog sometime). 🙂 I loved reading about how you came to poetry and your search for mystery. Surely mystery is something poets find and express with such beauty. I loved reading about Tessie and how she has brought life to that old barn!! I love writing poetry too–free verse mostly–but I don’t think I could write a poem a day. I am a very slow writer, and it takes time for the words to dance.

    Thank you so much for sharing!!

    • katiewilda says:

      Thank you so much..I think I know Louis Brodsky’s name. That is amazing that he wrote a poem a day for so many years. I am amazed the poems that are being called forth. But it is quite a commitment.

      That’s a good idea to write about Madeleine L’Engle…Her book The Irrational Season saved my faith during a very dark time.

      I didn’t think I could write a poem a day either until I started this…You might want to try it and see what happened. (I too am normally a very slow writer. It’s been hard to fire off these blogs because of that and my reticence…So this practice is certainly loosening that up!)

  • Lynn D. Morrissey says:

    I smiled when you spoke about practice, because I’m a singer. I’d not sung professionally in a number of years, and then joined a pro Bach chorus in 2010. I was amazed and how much my daily practicing (with heavy does of melismas) loosened my voice and gave me far more agility than I had ever had. The same is true for writing, of course . . . so I will trust what you are saying about poetry… albeit, I think that that would be harder. yes, we pour forth our hearts, but in the more measured way, less free-wheeling . . . a greater economy of words and employing poetic devices. LD wrote over 12000 poems in his lifetime, and came to poetry after pursuing a different career. Then he couldn’t be stopped. Words gushed from him. He set me a wonderful example (as you are now doing). I’ve not read that book by L’Engle, and now I’m intrigued. So do please tell us how her book affected you so profoundly. And how ever did you meet her?

    • katiewilda says:

      What is melismas? Well, I am hoping that my voice will loosen and find more agility here with the poems. Yesterday I journaled while Bruce drove us to Princeton, and so have some poems started. I like that this lends itself to handwriting because a person can stay away from social media then. You’re so right about the greater economy of words…That’s amazing that LD wrote 12,000 poems. Wow…

      Oh the Irrational Season is an amazing book. I need to reread it again soon. There’s a chapter in there called the Noes of God and it really spoke to me. I was publicizing Francis and Edith and Frank Schaeffer and it was a very dark time in my life. She said something about being an atheist for God and how ideologues don’t care about people so much as how they look caring for people, or something like that. Her sentences gave me a light and a way to go forward in the middle of the politicization of evangelicalism.

      I met Madeline at Wheaton College. The English department brought her there to speak. Then paths crossed with her when I was the publicist at Crossway books.

  • Wilma C. Guzman says:


    Thought I’d share this with all your faithful readers as well as yourself. Go girl, you are on your way in expressing yourself daily with meaningful poems.

    “A poem is an invention that exists in spite of history….in a time of violence, the task of poetry is in some way to reconcile us to the world – not to accept it at face value, or assent to things that are wrong, but to reconcile one in a larger sense to return us in love, the province of imagination to the scope of our mortal lives.” – Meena Alexander (from

    • katiewilda says:

      I love this quote and copied it into my file with these poems. It makes a wonderful benefit statement for poetry and in general and makes sense, especially with how reconciliation is an important work for all of us. This also shows how important poetry can be. (Sometimes a person wonders how valuable it is.) Thank you so much for your support…

  • Lynn D. Morrissey says:

    Ah melismas: “an ornamental phrase of several notes sung to one syllable of text, as in plainsong or blues singing.” But they are ubiquitous in Bach. So it would be a string of notes, usually sung on one syllable, and quite often, very quickly and often comprised of 8th or 16th notes. And he even used 32nd notes, but not usually melismatically (more often as a trill). Wonderful how you are both journaling and writing poetry. I tend to write it for some occasion . . . some particular occurrence in my life (and often it depicts a story). Yes, LD was truly amazing. So wonderful about how her words and example helped you. And I had no idea you’d been a publicist. Amazing!

    • katiewilda says:

      Thank you so much for this explanation. What a beautiful description and sound. I need to get back to your link on FB messenger so I can hear what you’re talking about. Yeah I pretty much launched Crossway Books in the early eighties. I promoted the Schaeffer’s, Stephen Lawhead and others…It was a very wild time. My novel depicts what it was like…