Operation Poetry Dare: The Conclusion of the Matter

Wait. Is she breaking up with me?

My good friend and Poetry Buddy Megan Willome emailed me early one Tuesday morning, wondering if it might be time to bring this project to an end. Since beginning Operation Poetry Dare I’ve come to expect not only a poem a day in my inbox, but also Megan’s thoughtful response to each day’s offering.  And not only have we discussed pieces delivered by Every Day Poems, but Megan has also introduced me to some of her personal favorites.

I think you’ll like this one,” Megan writes when she sends something which reminds her of me. Discussing poetry has enabled us not only to appreciate each other’s tastes, but has also deepened our relationship with and understanding of one another.

When Megan emailed me her Will Oldham piece in which she flung the anti-poetry guy’s words back at him, I responded:

That’s it. I officially love poetry!

I also have a confession to make—a couple, actually:

I suspect there may be a few cynics among those reading who think this was just a stunt. Maybe I was a plant—that secretly I had been a poetry lover all along but was pretending to be afraid of it for the sake of this project.

I say this because, if I weren’t the one participating in this experiment, that’s exactly what I would be thinking. In all honesty, I did not love poetry. I did not understand it. I had no use for it. I fully expected to walk away from this project completely unchanged.

Yes, I am ornery enough to accept a dare just to prove someone wrong.

I had some very personal reasons for accepting this dare at this point in my life. Having accumulated a nearly full head of gray hair, I realize time is running short for me to learn new things. When I was offered the opportunity to learn something about poetry, I thought, “If I don’t learn this now, I may never again have the chance. And I get to learn about it for free!”

I also accepted the dare because I want to embrace a little more mystery in my life, and poetry is nothing if not mysterious. Thus far, my life has been very much about plans and lists and spreadsheets. For many years, sewing was the most creative activity I ever attempted. In sewing, I could follow a pattern, cut along a solid line and stitch pieces together following a dotted one. I made sure all my seams met together at perfect points. If not, I ripped them out and started over.

I  realize life is seldom ever that neat and tidy. Following lists, plans, and dotted lines hasn’t always led me to the outcome I expected. Other forces are at work; mysteries are afoot. Poetry whispers to me about things I believe but can’t see or control. It hints at missing pieces in my concrete reality.

Sometimes, though, poetry just makes me laugh.

In her email in which she promised she wasn’t breaking up with me, Megan wrote:

I think this has been good for all of us. Tweetspeak is a fun place, and you brought the funny. . . I also think that you have developed a taste for poetry. It may always be a little alien to you, but I think you can now appreciate a good one when you see one. And I’m sure . . .  you’ll find that appreciation helping your writing. There’s nothing like poetry to teach you how to do a lot with only a few words.

And I’ve enjoyed having a Poetry Buddy! I’m never in a teaching role, and I don’t think I’d ever want to be an actual official teacher, but this has been fun. It’s made me feel like I have something to share even though I don’t have a published book of poetry or a poetry degree . . .

We have agreed to continue our conversation, but no longer as a project. We’ll talk about poetry when we want to. Operation Poetry Dare has reached its finish, the data have been collected, and these are the conclusions I’ve drawn from my experiment:

  • Poetry may be mysterious, but it’s not dangerous
  • Poetry is probably best taught by someone who loves it
  • Poetry may not be a subject to be learned at all, but rather a conversation; a call-and-response
  • The best way to get comfortable with poetry is by reading poetry
  • The folks at Tweetspeak really do care about having fun and helping people become who they really are
  • There is probably not a man, woman or child who couldn’t benefit from having a little more poetry in their lives–or a poetry buddy

Photo by Sukanto Debnath. Creative Commons via Flickr. Post by Nancy Franson. 

Follow the rest of Nancy and Megan’s journey in Operation Poetry Dare:

Operation Poetry Dare: Introduction
Operation Poetry Dare: I Can’t Dance to It
Operation Poetry Dare: For the Love
Operation Poetry Dare: What a Poetry Buddy is For
Operation Poetry Dare: Poetry Brain
A Poetry Dare for Will Oldham, the anti-poetry guy


Take your own poetry dare? Subscribe to Every Day Poems to receive a poem a day, paired with beautiful art and photography, delivered conveniently to your inbox Monday through Friday. Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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  1. says

    Thanks so much for letting us all peek at the process and join the conversation along the way! So glad you took the dare! And I loved reading your conclusions, especially this one: “Poetry may be mysterious, but it’s not dangerous” 😀

  2. L. L. Barkat says

    I don’t know. It might be dangerous. Look. Now you became part of the Tweetspeak team. Who knows where that will take you? 😉

    Love this conclusion. We honestly had no idea how this would play out for you. Fun.

  3. says

    Watch out Nancy, I am going to bring even more poetry into your life, beginning in Greenville and beyond. (evil halloween-ish laugh to be inserted HERE) You cannot escape P-O-E-T-R-Y :)

    All kidding aside, I am happy we now have poetry in common. And I have absolutely loved every moment of this daring journey. You are a great sport and a super lab rat :)

    I am going to look at your poetry board. Now that is impressive. A giant step for mankind. Nancy and Pinterest and poetry.

    • says

      Did you just call me a lab rat? I love it!

      Make sure you send me the link to your yellow poem. It’s definitely Pinterest-board worthy :)

      Can’t wait to see what you’ve got waiting for me in Greenville!

  4. says

    Oh, no! I hate to see this Super-Poetry-Duo break up!

    Well, maybe this means Megan to mentor someone else? Start a little EDP Poetry for Newbies club here at Tweetspeak?

    And you, Nancy? Well, I just love that you began to see value in something that otherwise left you puzzled. You modeled how to enter in with doubt and yet stay open enough to learn something about poetry…and yourself. A delightful journey. I’m sorry to see it come to an end, at least in this format.

    • says

      I like the idea of Megan continuing to mentor others but, I believe the rules governing break-ups demand a certain waiting period before entering into a new relationship. Hey, I don’t just go around making up these rules.

      Oh wait. We didn’t break up. Never mind.

      We still talk about poetry, and Megan continues to send me pieces she thinks I’ll like.

      And . . . get ready for this–a friend of mine just asked me to join a local poetry group he’s starting! Who’da thunk it?

      Old dogs, new tricks :)

      BTW–I think I need to pin your potato poem on my board. I’ll have to go snag it off your blog.

  5. says

    LOL!!! I just had a “vision” of an infographic… Beware the Dare… DANGER… POETRY…. listed side effects and all…. LOL! Nancy and Megan this has been so much fun!

  6. says

    I couldn’t believe you were in my inbox, so I had to come over and see what all the fuss is about. Love this. Perhaps I’ll stick my toe into some poetry. You just never know do you Nancy? And that Megan is probably the best mentor you could have, there’s that.

  7. says

    Well, i’m just SO relieved this was not a break-up! Because you are the dynamic duo if ever there was one. This has been fun all the way along and I am delighted that your relationship with TSP will continue in a brand new format. Next up – a poem, from YOU.

  8. says

    Nancy, here are my two favorites from your take aways from the Poetry Dare:
    “Poetry may not be a subject to be learned at all, but rather a conversation; a call-and-response”
    “The best way to get comfortable with poetry is by reading poetry”
    Now, that’s some good words. :-)

    • says

      Now that I see them in print, it seems to be those things really should have been rather obvious, don’t you think?

      I do think much of my discomfort with poetry came from trying to read lifeless words on a page. The conversation breathed life into them and helped me hear what I was missing.

      So glad you followed along, Jody.

  9. says

    Megan, because this piece is in the voice of Nancy, I unwisely did not speak to your significant part in this dare. You must have some mad skills of gently wooing one into the world of poetry,of encouragement, and of friendship. The friendship the two of you have shines brightly through this dare. Thank you for walking this out in front of us so we could all arrive at this most perfect of outcomes.

  10. says

    Still just so pleased that both of you jumped into this.

    And very impressed that you left yourself open to explore the possibilities. This dare could have gone any number of ways. :)

    • says

      It really could have, you know. It’s quite possible I’ve been referred to as a loose cannon a time or two.

      Thanks for taking a chance on me–and for partnering me with Megan. It’s been far more fun than ever I expected from poetry.


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