The 2017 Poetry Marathon Updates Part 2

Thank you for all the helpful feedback we received to the first updates post! Based on that feedback we have a few announcements to make.

There will be an anthology this year!

It will be similar to last years because we will do our best to include one poem by everyone who submits. The only major difference is that the submission period is shorter and starts sooner after the anthology is over. The submission period will go from August 10-15th.

Because the period is sooner you have to submit your information to get a certificate by August 9th.

Part of the reason everything is moved up in terms of time, is that I think it will work better and allow us to get the anthology out quicker.

The other reason is that I am co-organizing a poetry festival in late September in Bellingham Washington, so I have even more work on my already busy plate.

There will be two half marathon starting times!

Thanks to a lot of good feedback and encouragement there will be two half marathon starting points. One as always will start when the first marathon begins at 9AM ET. The second will be right after the first half marathon ends at 9 PM August 5th ET.

This is a terrible time to start if you actually live in the Eastern Time Zone but if you live outside of North America it might work better for you.

The Sign Up Period is Set

You can sign up to participate in the 2017 Poetry Marathon starting July 20th, and it ends July 27th.

There will be a lot more emails warning people about how intense the marathon is (because it is).

2017 Poetry Marathon Updates and Ideas

Every year The Poetry Marathon is a little different. This year we are figuring out how it will be different.

Last year, as some of you may know, we had more people start the Marathon than every before, but the completion rate was much lower than the year before. 500 people signed up, about 250 for the full marathon, and 250 for the half marathon. Only around 100 completed the full marathon. The success rate for the half marathon was much higher, but still not as good as the previous year.

So this year instead on focusing on growing, we are going to focus on completion rates. We want the majority of the participants to have a complete the marathon, or half marathon – whatever they have committed to.

To that end we are going to make the application sheet ask more specific questions of potential participants. We will also stress on the sign up sheet how much work the marathon is.

The majority of the people we talked to, who had dropped out of the marathon, did so because they did not realize how much time and effort it would involve. It is called a marathon for a reason. So we will also send out emails regarding how to plan for the marathon in the week proceeding it.

If you have any ideas about how we can make it clear how much effort the poetry marathon involves, please send me an email at

We are hoping for the first time to have fewer initial participants but a much higher completion rate.

The Poetry Marathon continues to grow every year.  Every year the diversity of the participants increase. In 2015 individuals living on 6 different continents participated. There were several mother daughter teams. The oldest poet was in their 80s, the youngest was in their teens. Experienced poets who had published books participated as did several people who had never really written poetry before.

During the marathon friendships and communities are formed that last much longer than the marathon itself.

However, what continues to surprise and impress me the most about the Marathon is the quality of work that it produces. By that I don’t mean edited and polished work. (One person dropped out this year because they hated looking at others typo riddled poems.) I mean the quality of the raw material, the poems before polishing.

This year the basics of the marathon will stay the same.

The marathon will take place on August 5th. It will start at 9 AM ET and it will conclude at 9 AM ET on the 6th for full marathoners. The half marathon will run from 9 AM to 9 PM on August 5th. Each poet must write and publish on the blog one poem per hour.

We will have one central Facebook group where poets can meet and encourage each other, before, after, and during the event.

All of the poems will still have to be posted on the central website (although you can remove them as soon as the marathon is over).

Everyone has to register before the marathon in order to participate in the marathon.

Everyone who completes the half or whole marathon will receive a digital certificate to mark their participation.

This is still largely a two person operation. Jacob Jans handles most of the technical aspects of the Marathon and Caitlin Jans handles almost everything else. Keep this in mind when we make mistakes or cannot manage to do everything that we want to do. This is not a large non-profit, this is two poets (with a baby, a dog, and jobs) who try their best.

There will still be a prompt published every hour.

We will again have volunteer commenters after the marathon. This was one of the really great improvements last year. I am very grateful for everyone who volunteered.

However there will be some changes.

The anthology is still up in the air, but it will most likely happen again, with hopefully an August submission period this time. Thus anthology may be different from the other anthologies. It will most likely not include the work of everyone that submits and we would not be able to offer complimentary physical copies to all the contributors (however they would probably be available at cost and digital copies would be available for free). If you want another anthology to happen, even with these conditions in place, please encourage us in that direction.

We will be accepting prompt submissions.

As mentioned before we will really stress the amount of time and work the marathon requires and we may be posting a series of blog posts by past marathoners, to that end.

If you can think of any other changes we should or could make, please email us at

Anthology Submissions are Now Open

Submissions for the 2016 Poetry Marathon Anthology opened this morning, the 3rd of September and will stay open till the 12th of September. No submissions will be accepted after that point.

All submissions must include two poems, no more, no less. All submissions must be made via our email address ( The subject line of all emails must be Poetry Submission. Poems must be included in the body of the email.

All poems submitted must be written during the 2016 Poetry marathon. All poems should be completely edited and contain no major grammatical errors. You must indicate which hour each poem was written in. Only poets who completed the whole or half marathon will be eligible to submit. If you signed up for the whole marathon and only completed the half, submit as a half marathoner.

There is no guarantee that by submitting to the anthology your poem will be selected.

Digital copies will be made available for free to any contributor. Print copies will be available for a reasonable price and any money that is made from them will go back into the marathon.

Want to know what the 2014 Poetry Marathon Anthology was like? Pick up your copy here.

hour twelve

It’s warmth wraps around me

a woodsy smell envelopes me

it is soft & worn

as I put my arms in its sleeves

I remember, it working

in the woodshop –

Daddy’s workshirt…

soft memories hug me…

hour eleven

the aroma wafts towards my nose,

I think of the hands

that lovingly prepared

those hand-cut

potatoes, thick slices

piled high in the cast iron

cooked to crispy perfection

as my teeth sink in,

ahhh, yummy

grandma’s fried potatoes!

hour ten

boom, clatter, crash

as I sit watching the train slowly pass…

screech, rumble growl

the cars pick up speed…

clackity-clack goes the track

and I watch it go by…

hour nine

the rain beats down on the windshield

wipers bashing at the chaos

trucks splattering more water

than those tiny blades can swipe

cursing the rain, the car zooms along

I’m wishing I had time

to stop and dance in the rain…

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