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 poets@thepoetrymarathon.com.

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 poets@thepoetrymarathon.com

19 thoughts on “2017 Poetry Marathon Updates and Ideas

  1. This is exciting, Caitlin! I think this shift is a good one. Quality over quantity. I have loved having a piece in the anthology. It’s helped me promote my poetry work and talk up the marathon. I’ll think on the clarity dilemma and offer feeedback soon. Thanks!

  2. Thank you i enjoyed being a part of the 2016 Half Marathon and I look forward to the 2017 Marathon also. It gave me great pride to have you select one of my poems for the 2016 Marathon Anthology. I would love to see another Anthology be published from the upcoming 2017 Marathon! Again, thank you for these opportunities!

  3. Thank you for the great effort to put together The Poetry Marathon. It was great to accomplished the Full Marathon in 2015 and Half Marathon in 2016. It demands preparation, time and effort to commit to this event, but it is a challenge worthy to try. I felt proud to have one poem published in the Antologhy. Best wishes for 2017 Marathon. I’m ready for it!

  4. Thank you for the great effort to put together The Poetry Marathon. It was great to accomplish the Full Marathon in 2015 and Half Marathon in 2016. It demanded preparation, time and effort to commit to this event, but it was a challenge worthy to try. I felt proud to have one poem published in the Antologhy. Best wishes for 2017 Marathon. I’m ready for it!

  5. My preparation for The 24 Hour Poetry Marathon was first to tell my family that I could not be bothered for those 24 hours plus 6-12 hours before. It seemed to work pretty well.
    I found if I drank caffeinated beverages, coffee, tea etc before I was totally wiped out it helped, The caffeine tends to take 30 minutes or so to work. I didn’t fill up on junk food,. I ate regular meals and healthy snacks every few hours.
    The friendships I have made through the poetry marathon are special. We keep in touch throughout the year thanks to FB and emails.
    ***One question: Can we enter our work on the blog at a later time within the 12 or 24 hour time. I write on paper first, words come to me better that way. Some poems are written quicker than others- rarely needing the full hour.
    For the anthology you could charge an entry fee to participate to help with the cost. This may make the commitment more meaningful.

    1. Joyce, thank you so much! That is really helpful and I may share that along with other stories to help first timers prepare this year (if that is ok?). I also am a big fan of the healthy snacks routine.
      I’ve never written a poem during the marathon that takes more than 40 minutes, but the reason we have the goal to be a poem once every hour is to give people space in between the poems to think and refuel, otherwise a lot of rushed and less successful poems happen.
      As for the anthology, we both are pretty opposed to charging in sorts of fees, they are just so often associated with writing, particularly poetry these days, and it is excludes people who can’t afford the fees. The main question is just time – my time is limited and so is Jacob’s. But it will most likely happen this year.

  6. 2016 was my first Marathon. I only did the half because I had other commitments that day and knew I couldn’t stay at it. It was a struggle and some of what I wrote was lacking but overall I loved the challenge. I was also quite surprised to be published. I think being more selected is a good choice. Then the publication becomes even more meaningful. I’d be willing to pay for a copy, with or without one of my poems. Still, the former is my preference!

    1. Shirley, thank you so much for your feedback. We will probably publish everyone who submits again (unless we have too many submissions). We do it that way because it really reflects the diversity of the participants – first time writers, established poets, a whole range of nationalities and backgrounds. I always add the bit about maybe not including everyone as a disclaimer. There is a reasoning behind why we accept everyone (as long as they are willing to edit).

  7. Definitely keep the anthology. Was an honor to be chosen, and helps those of us that are trying to build publishing credits. I don’t mind paying for hard copies, and loved reading all the work.

    I loved doing the marathon this year, and look forward to doing it again.

  8. More people may have completed the marathon than you are aware of, as well. I wrote and posted a poem each hour, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t get around to notifying you and asking for the certificate. Perhaps stressing that you would like to be notified by those who successfully complete the marathon would help boost the completion numbers.

    1. Elena, Thank you, although actually you would have been counted. The numbers we ended up were not from people applying for certificates, because a lot do not, and some who do did not actually complete it. We did it by filtering and counting the number of people who posted 23 times (to allow a margin of error) in the 24 hour period. We also counted the one person who accidentally did the whole thing on her personal blog. We did the same thing for the half marathon.

  9. I signed up for the half marathon last year, but fell asleep before the 1 a.m. finish line. While it’s not practical for US participants to start any earlier (especially those on the West coast!) might it be possible to stagger the starting time for Europe and Africa? Also, I’m sure some people would like the option of doing their half-marathon in the second half, especially those in GMT ±10/11 timezones.

    1. Kell, I think that is interesting idea. I don’t think staggering is the way to go because as someone who has done a marathon all on her own, and with a group of three, I don’t think it is as much fun, when only a few people are involved. I also think it would be hard if you started later to see people pass (or fail to pass) the metaphorical finish line. Also because of the prompts scheduling and the congratulations scheduling it would be a logistical nightmare. But your comment did encourage me to make a major change this year and that is that we will have two half marathon start times. The traditional one at the beginning of the marathon and a second one at the half way point for full marathoners, so 10 PM ET. I hope that will help more of the international crowd, although it might not be ideal, it seemed like the most straightforward thing to try.

  10. Love this challenge idea & think i will sign up! My creative mind, & my writing in general, need a kick start. I love the inclusion of an anthology to celebrate all those involved–at all levels!! Very motivating! Similar online challenges discourage novices, as the same poets are always chosen. As an incentive for completion, how about offering only those who finish their chosen marathon to be in the anthology? A couple of questions: I assume all poems must follow a prompt (to avoid posting pre-written poems)? Do you select one poem from each poet, or do we submit our top choice? Thank for putting this together!!

    1. Michele, I hope you do sign up as registration is now open! You have to have completed the full or half marathon in order to be in the anthology. That is already part of the rules. Not all poems must follow a prompt, most people just can’t write that way (including yours truly). We do not allow the pre-scheduling of poems, and anyone who has we disqualify. Each poet for the anthology submits their choice of two poems. I then choose between them.

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