The Future of the Poetry Marathon

Many of the posts and comments I read refer to next year’s Poetry Marathon. Jacob and I even use this phrase when talking to each other, and then we catch ourselves.

The poetry marathon has been going for five good years now. We love participating in the challenge, we love having this amazing supportive creative community, but also it is a lot of work.

When we started it we were a young married couple. We might have thought we had a lot of responsibilities at the time, but frankly we did not. We had plentiful free time for the most part. Each year though we accumulated more responsibilities – a growing business,  a dog, more community involvement, a house, also there were always health problems, but they seemed manageable, temporary even.

Then two years ago we had a wonderful little one. This year we faced a health crisis. I don’t know what else to call it without revealing more about it. It is something we will always have to deal with, even though hopefully it will be better in the future.

But still we pushed forward thinking this would be the last year maybe. And the way it currently is it is unsustainable. Unless our life was to get dramatically easier in the next year it just won’t be possible to put the kind of time in we do every year.

So here are our options going forward as we see it.

  1. We find one (or possibly two) person who can take on up to 75% of the work. This person would be in charge of things like writing emails, answering questions, doing the occasional blog post, etc. We would still cover the costs of hosting the website and help where we could in terms of technology, image making, and prompts. We would also provide a clear outline of what needed to be done. If this happened the agreement would just be to try it for one year and see how it goes.
  2. We take a year off and hope that enough improves to attempt hosting the following year. We did this once before because we were between homes in the summer. This was the year between the first and second marathon.
  3. People take it into there own hands and have their own marathons linking to our website for idea credit.

2 & 3 of course could happen together. What do you think? We really are a community and we really want to hear feedback and opinions.

26 thoughts on “The Future of the Poetry Marathon

  1. This marathon belongs to you, Caitlin and Jacob. You are the Marathon. You’ve given so, so much of your free time these past years to devising, fine tuning, maintaining and driving this event forwards.
    I’d be completely happy to step back from the marathon for a year or so (there needs to be no time pressure on you both; that’s not fair) til you get some breathing space and decide the best way forward – whether you both decide to take up the reins again at some stage or appoint someone else to run it. You’ve done an amazing thing in creating this strong creative community. Now you need to put yourselves first and do what’s best for you xx

  2. I’m so grateful for all the Jan’s crew has done! I’m not in a position to take over the marathon or contribute in a 75% way, but I like the idea of individual groups running marathons that might come together in a common way/place (online). I’d be happy to run the Houston, TX branch. Keep me/us posted, Caitlin. 🙂

  3. Dear Caitlin and Jacob,
    The two of you have done so much to sustain this global writing community and to further poetry as a viable and much needed genre, and not just a writing form of the past as so many think of it. I sincerely hope that whatever life-changing circumstances have happened this past year improve for you, and would support any combination of the three options you put forth. From my own perspective, I personally have gained so much from this, words for once fail to convey the depth of gratitude I feel. Therefore, I’d like you to consider me for option number one, and I know that one or two (or more!) brave souls from my writing group, Some Poets, would help in the endeavor. After all we would never have all met each other and our group (much less our books) would not exist without the marathon. Please think on this and let me know what you think.
    Warmest regards,
    Tracy Plath

  4. I know what it’s like to walk away from something in which you’ve deeply invested. I ran a poetry open mike for more than twelve years. But when the energy is no longer there, it’s gone.

    I also learned that events by committee, especially long distance committee, stumble at the starting gate. If the event is to continue, I suggest that two or three poets who already work in close cooperation take over. Otherwise, one person will carry the load, or pieces will be left undone.

  5. Caitlyn and Jacob, this has been a blessing and blast for me being this was my first poetry marathon. By the end of the year, I’ll be working from home so I could better take care of my family and our home. By this time next year I may be ready to help with the organizing of next year’s marathon. Even though I had a bit of a rough go at it this year, it helped me reopen my mind and soul and enjoy writing again. So count me in.

  6. Dear Caitlin and Jacob,
    Thank you for the time, money, and energy you are putting into this WONDERFUL Poetry Marathon. I know how hard is to make this kind of decision. Follow your heart and pray together to find the best option.
    Thank you for sharing with us your concern.
    Best wishes,

  7. Hi Caitlin & Jacob,
    I am so thankful for The Poetry Marathon you have created and nurtured these past years & the difference it has made in my life creatively, a sentiment undoubtedly shared by many of us.
    I fully support your taking a sabbatical from the Marathon for as long as you both wish & until you decide the best way and next step forward. Your young family, health, and business must always come first.
    To be frank, I know myself, and I don’t think I am confident or able enough to assist to the point of taking over to the extent suggested.
    However, I am certain that more than a few of my fellow writers will be inspired to create their own poetry or other marathon events down the road, and they can count on the support from the members of our ever-growing Poetry Marathon community.
    Gratefully yours,

  8. Please get in touch; I’m very serious that I don’t want this to die out or for the current participants to lose their traction because someone else needs to pick it up.

    This was my first half-marathon, and it was so inspiring, so useful for me as a writer that I was wondering if I might start something similar in a prosaic way.

    My lifestyle is free, in that I plan to buy a van and live on the road, traveling across North and South America for as long as I want while writing and working odd jobs when I need to.

    I also love marketing and social media, and keep a rather active profile.

    That means that I have plenty of time and expertise to continue the momentum of The Poetry Marathon, and would actually like to stop off in various communities to encourage it at Open Mike Nights, Poetry Slams, colleges and universities, coffeehouses and book stores wherever I go.

    This would be an amazing task for me, and I’d love it if someone else wanted to help; but if not, I’m sure I can manage it on my own.

    Again, please get in touch; I believe my email address is listed with my registration.

    Sincerely and excitedly,
    Meredith (Meri) McGuire

    1. I want to read more comments, so won’t say much here, but wanted to respond just say that I’d love to be in touch – to hear about your plans. My wants are much like yours. I’ve been on a big journey for many years…it’s about to take another form.

      AND, as I’ll write as a comment to Caitlan’s initial post, I too would be willing to help with organizing, keeping going, growing this. It was my first marathon too and I thought it was an incredible experience! Perhaps a brainstorming session among those who’d consider helping to keep it going – whether for a year or longer.

  9. I agree with one of the previous comments: having a committee organize is likely to be fraught with peril.

    My preference: You two take a break. Let one person take over the duties you list in your post. Come back when you’re ready.

  10. I agree with what Anne said in the first comment. You have done a lot already and we all are really grateful. It’s completely okay to take as much time as you guys need…. We’ll support you in whatever you decide. And I am sure we all are willing to wait…. Even if it takes time…. Please take care and know that for us, your well-being comes first.

  11. Yes, Caitlin and Jacob, it was a tremendous work and I for one would like to congratulate you on a job well done and some pats on the back. Yes, again, The Poetry Marathon is Caitlin and Jacob and Caitlin and Jacob is Poetry Marathon. It would not be the same if man by others. Go ahead and skip TPM for a year, we will live, and so the 2 of you. God bless and best regards.

  12. I am so very sad to read your announcement. I am sad for your situation and sad for the Marathon’s future. Please know that whatever you decide, you are doing the right thing. I wish I were capable of handling even a part of what you do. I would be willing. I am just not that person. Be well. Keep writing.

  13. You are awesome for doing this, and I am very grateful for the opportunity you presented to get me writing again after many many years. Looks like there are a number of volunteers to take the reins next year. Please don’t hesitate to call on me, too, if I can be of service. I suspect a team of us could take the load off.

    Much love! Joy

  14. I like the first option. I for one am willing to take over the majority of the work/writing and help out with guidance along the way. How exciting and fantastic to get to be part of a fantastic event. If you as a family need to take a year off then I understand and respect the decision but as a participant, winner, admirer and inspired fellow poet I am more than willing to step up.

  15. I think a year off is important, and I support you in that. I was the director of a small non-profit started by a lovely woman, and for health reasons she wanted to retire, so she turned it over to me. But then she didn’t actually. She kept wanting to stay involved, to micromanage and to just give orders. That wasn’t what I signed on to do. A wise person called it “founder’s syndrome”…the founders find it hard to step away because no one will run it like they did or like they envision. Please think about how you would feel turning it over to someone else who might not do it as well as you did. Could you let them fail?

    There’s also the issue of how much you would actually stay involved. If you are going to be working almost as hard to help someone else run it, then just keep it and run it. Only you know the answer to these things. That’s why I support you in taking a break for a year. Life happens. If you miss the marathon, you will come back. If not, then you can hand it off then.

    By the way, I am in another group that would love to consider doing a variation on the marathon. When you are in the mood to discuss options like that, please drop me a note! 🙂 All the best to you both, and deep thanks for a wonderful experience! — Kaye Vivian

  16. Whatever you choose, I give my full support. Sometimes we want the same experience again, but we often don’t see the full impact on others. You were amazing leaders this year, and I appreciate the work I see and am grateful for all I haven’t seen. As a newbie, I’m not familiar with the whole marathon so cannot volunteer to lead this, but I will give support if another person or group comes forward. Whatever develops, we’ll be fine.

  17. I am immensely thankful how both of you intiated this endeavor and taking the inherent risks of this that it also affected the basic function of family affairs. I will simply abide whatever decision for your poetry marathon. Blessings from Philippines and from bottom of my heart forever grateful for participating this marathon

  18. I think that you should hire someone to run the Marathon (or most of it). Charge us $10 to be a part of it. That would pay that person’s salary. The more contestants…the more he or she is paid. With the right person this would be a win/win/win. (When my wife Colleen was looking into being part of this year’s Marathon she asked me how much it cost and was incredulous when I said it was free.) Maybe have scholarships if it’s a financial hardship…or ask volunteers to pay $20 to cover those that might not able to join due to cost. This is too great of an event to not carry on! It’s a time for reinvention!

  19. Thank you
    I could say sis much but gratitude is the first emotion that comes to mind. Your hearts and spirits are so beautifully Indelde in this inspiring gift. I felt the amount of work that it takes to do what you do to give such a gift to all of us on this, my second marathon. My first fit Ling wa and spirits are so beautifully Indelde in this inspiring gift. I felt the amount of work that it takes to do what you do to give such a gift to all of us on this, my second marathon. My first next feeling was to jump in an offer my support. And then I remembered how much work I noticed the two of you have put in and continue to. I have seen some very strong offers of support above. And I truly honor and recognize your vision for someone to take on 75% Because yes, committee and all of that is fraught with wildness.

    After reading many of these comments I have a few thoughts.

    if you found that magical 75%er to hold the container, I do believe there would be support within the community willing to follow that leadership and make the commitments to complete necessary tasks as presented. I know that I am willing to support in that way if you keep going, take a break or whoever is keeping us together.

    I encourage your taking time to pray on it and feel what’s right

    it feels like members of this community may be ready to share the cost of keeping the site on the web as it is in the interim and maybe even moving forward. Again, I would for sure.

    And I also would love to see, facilitate and participate in more experiences like this one!

    I wonder if the combination of a 75%er, and others who wish to take the idea and run with it and community financial commitment could all swirl up a pot of awesomeness right there on the current site.

    Ok. I feel like this strewn of consciousness rambling was written at hour 22. But yeah. Let’s keep us together somehows.

    Caitlin and Jacob. I have addedyou and your family to my prayers and I see you all well and blessed. You have touched so many hearts!


  20. Thanks everyone for the support, ideas, and motivation. We have to figure everything out once the anthology starts to wind down, but we will start to work on sorting out everything as soon as we can. We will keep everyone updated! Thank you for being so amazing!

  21. Hi,
    I had my head down the last two days – or maybe propped up!

    I was sorry to read your announcement.
    This was my first marathon and it was an incredible experience for me! I’ve been telling many about it.

    My thoughts reflect those of many already expressed. So, in no particular order:
    1. THANK YOU, thank you, thank you – for your vision, your execution, the resources you invested and shared so generously, your support, and who you so clearly are in the world!

    2. It seems the first order if for you to decide what you’d like
    (a) GET HELP for next year then make a longer term decision,
    (b) HAND IT OVER for next year then decide,
    (c) RESTRUCTURE. Several possibilities- including you two retaining ‘leadership’ or ‘vision’ but others sign on to do some labor (maybe in conjunction with some modest fee for participation to cover costs
    (d) END IT – knowing that some may start other events based on this)

    I appreciate the comments folks have made regarding running things by committee, and yet, we also know that most enterprises of any size take more than one or two people to make them run/work.

    I suspect a group of interested others could be assembled, responsibilities divided in a way that makes sense and leverages the resources we as a community could bring to the table.

    My general approach is to decide first what you’d most like to see happen – without concern for the ‘how’ – let us know, and we’ll all go from there.

    Finally thought – in my work, I’ve often heard those who don’t wish to take a task suggest that maybe the task shouldn’t be take up at all. I think we should guard against that approach.

    Decide what feels best to and for you, let us know and let’s go from there – with an awareness that there really are ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES : )

    Thank you again, and wishes for peace and ease for you and your family!

    1. Thank you! It is really helpful hearing every ones opinion! We do know that the ultimate decision is up to us, but we plan to take our time to make it. We know that we are not going to hand it over to a committee, but we are open to the person who is in charge of the 75% to delegate – but they will be completely in charge of the delegation. Also we discussed it in some length yesterday and I don’t think either of us is ok with charging fees and it would be conditional to handing it over that anyone else would not change that. Fundraising is ok and maybe even wise, but one of the most important things for us is that the Marathon remain open and accessible for all.

  22. Whatever you decide, a break, or whatever is fine with me. Not sure how much help I can be, but I am willing to follow directions to make it work.
    The two of you are wonderful folks. You do so much for yew writing community..before reading this, I sent Jacob an email because I wanted to let you know that one of your leads, I think it was yours, has resulted in my placing a short mystery of mine. Your family must come first. Let us know what we can do for patient, take a break, take on tasks…whatever you need

  23. Thank you for all you’ve done. I’m open for any resolution that means continuing with the marathon. I would be happy to help as one of the organizers if option number 1 seemed viable. If the #2 and #3 are the favored options, I could organize one of the regional or statewide groups.

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