The Messenger Project

In early April 2020, when the world was shut down amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I noticed a friend posting some of her poetry with an unfamiliar hashtag – #NaPoWriMo. Ever inquisitive and obedient to a teacher’s admonition to “never let an unfamiliar word (or hashtag) go by”, I asked her about it, via Facebook Messenger.

She introduced me to NaPoWriMo.net. In case you don’t feel like clicking the link, it’s an annual project in which participating poets attempt to write a poem a day for the month of April, generally starting from a daily “prompt”. I decided to undertake the challenge, despite doubt in my ability to write poetry anyone would ever want to read.

Along the way, my friend and I interacted extensively on Messenger: encouraging, questioning, complaining, self-disclosing, discussing life in quarantine. You name it.

At the end of the month, I wondered what was next.

At some point, I/she/we had the idea of doing something collaborative. I also wanted to try my hand at “erasure” poetry. And there was this huge trove of messages between us over the course of 4 weeks.

A plan was hatched. A true “chicken or the egg?” scenario, if you think about it.

I downloaded all of our messages from Facebook (you can do this – although getting it into a format you can work with for our purpose was not easy – I’m willing to offer help if anyone is interested). All told, when I pasted the text into Word (minus date stamps and our names), there were 91 pages of our discussions. NINETY-ONE.

We each have a copy and are doing our own erasure work to create poetry from our conversations. Then we’ll compare. Then we may do it again collaboratively.

Click Here to see the fruit of our labors. It’s roughly chronological. At this point, I’m not telling you whose is whose. I may change my mind.

It will change. Like we all change.

Today, there may only be a couple, depending on when you find this page.

It will grow. Like we all grow.

Some seem very bad. Some feel brilliant. But who really knows? This is one of the things I am learning about poetry.

And life.

It’s quite freeing.

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