I’m a marathoner. I may just have done it only once or twice, but if I don’t ever run again for the rest of my life, I’ll die happy knowing that I have finished a full marathon. I’m the guy who goes the distance. As it is with running, so it is with my poetry. So I push the envelope and just do a poetry marathon. What about challenging myself to write poetry for thirty days? That’s the Poem-a-thon: a challenge of writing at least one poem a day everyday in May. To make that even more exciting, I do it in the public eye, posting my daily poems on Facebook.
What gave you the idea?
I’m retired only from Nursing, but not from my writing life. I just don’t want to deteriorate, so I push myself a little doing what makes me even more creative. I think that performing the challenge in the public eye is a pretty good motivation. People can cheer me on when I get tired and weary, just like in the marathon. Then, I thought, why not also invite other people to join me in the challenge. And that lead me to the idea of the workshop.
An online poetry workshop?
Yes. I figured that I can also involve people from all parts of the world if I do it online so I did it on Facebook. Right now, I have participants from Iloilo, Negros, Metro Manila, Hong Kong, and Saudi Arabia. I invited a few poet-friends to be senior critics, but they didn’t last long enough, or didn’t show up at all. I guess they hate the adjective senior. Haha! But it’s all good. I’m pretty competent as a critique, and workshop director. Haha!
How are the participants?
They’re a pretty good mix. I have two or three who are very accomplished, meaning that they have been published or won competitions before. There are several newbies who are professionals of a certain age. And I have Wesnecan students from Ismael Java’s Kalingaw Hiligaynon Theatre Group at West Negros University in Bacolod. I knew from the get go that I wanted to hear Negrense voices because I am trying to expand the vocabulary database for my Hiligaynon dictionary. The evolution of the participants is really a surprise delight for me even at Week Two.
How was that?
We started the workshop on the Facebook wall of The Peter Solis Nery Foundation. My idea was that more people could benefit in a public space like that. They post their poems, and I post my critiques as comments. They reply as comments, and we continue to discuss in that way. By the end of the first week, I realized that some people did not really engage in the discussion so I imagined that some of them could just be very sensitive to criticism especially in public. So I created a secret community on Facebook, and it’s called Poem-a-thon with Peter Solis Nery. The day we made the move, people started posting their most sensual and sexual poems. I was shocked! It was like everybody was working for orgasm, at least in their poetry. I am very happy about that!
Will the public have access to those erotic poems?
Definitely! I mean, sure, ultimately. Unlike most other poetry workshops, I have my eye on publication, and I am directing this Poem-a-thon with a goal in mind of a published book of poems from the workshop. I knew that from the very beginning so I even invited people to the workshop with the hook: Being a published Hiligaynon poet has never been easier. Many signed up, but few showed actual commitment. Their loss, that’s for sure.
Will you hold another Poem-a-thon soon?
Poem-a-thon, sure. But maybe not another month-long. Haha! We are just beginning Week Four, and it has taken a lot from me already. I couldn’t party out all night long because I have to be on Facebook 24/7. I mean, of course, I am not paid for this, but once I give my commitment, I truly deliver. I am a big man of my word that way, that’s why even if divorce is legal in America, I have remained married for six years now. Haha!