Picture courtesy: Poetry Marathon
I signed up for the poetry marathon 2016 by chance. I do not recollect where I saw this event mentioned. It sounded intriguing.
I signed up, read the instructions and was sure I would not be able to complete the marathon. However, I wanted to participate, to experience. I read all the preparation tips. Unconsciously, I think I followed a few. I slept well the night before. I told my family and received their silent support. It was from 13th August evening IST to 14th August evening IST. 15th August being a holiday in India, I could catch-up on my sleep and that was a positive sign.
Generally, on weekends, I do not spend much time on the computer. Given that, my family had to be prepared to expect me to spend the entire 24 hrs. mostly in front of the computer – writing poetry and posting them. I generally can’t stay awake for 24 hrs. at a stretch – so I was sure I would not survive even 12 hours. And I had signed up for the full marathon and not half marathon.
The foundation to fail had been laid. Yet, the eagerness to participate, to experience something new made the entire anticipation exciting.
I was out on 13th August in the afternoon. I pestered my better half to reach home on time. I reached home at 5.45 pm on August 13th and the marathon was to start at 6.00 pm. I logged in and prayed that internet would support me the entire duration. The first prompt was a bouncer. I did not know what to write. I took the easy way out, and wrote a poem that my heart desired.
From the 2nd hour prompt onwards, I tried to adhere to the prompt topic. I cooked dinner, served it, ate, cleaned up – all amidst the first 4 prompts.
From the 5th prompt onwards, i.e. 5th hour, 5th poem, I started reading other submissions and leaving a comment on them.
By the 7th prompt, i.e. 1 am IST, I was fighting the lure of sleep. I listened to music, struggled with a few prompts. Each hour rolled into the next, each prompt into the next.
The topics were challenging, unique, and the feeling of accomplishment after I completed a poem every hour kept me going. I munched on snacks and lost count of the number of chocolates I ate.
I learnt new poetry form like Pantoum. Learning the form and writing a poem in that form in one hour was challenging. For nearly 2 hours, the internet was on the slower side and struggled to post.
The early rays of the dawn peeked out of the clouds. My family woke up. They clamoured for breakfast. Then it was time to prepare lunch. I felt some of the best poetry flow out of me and some not so great ones.
After lunch, the last 4 hours, I really struggled to keep awake, and to write poems. The Facebook group of the Poetry Marathon participants became my lifeline. There were similar stories like me. We encouraged each other, rallied for one another. It was easier to give up and go to sleep, harder to complete the marathon.
When I submitted my last poem, the 24th poem in 24 hours, non-stop breathing and living poetry in its truest form, my eyes and body got the permission to take a nap.
I slept for an hour and woke up to prepare dinner.
I heard and saw the awe on faces when I shared this achievement.
Now nearly 11 months later, just a month before the Poetry Marathon 2017, I am reliving the experience and sharing it on this blog.
I read a lot of poetry, shared moments with people passionate to take this challenge across the world in those 24 hours. It is an experience worth living again.
And I feel immense gratitude to the organizers Caitlin and Jacob Jans and the volunteers who made this event possible.