I used to be a nice person, a heartbreakingly nice kid (save for one incident in the third grade when, believing I was sticking up for my brother and his friend, I created a fictional “Ghost Society” and sent vaguely harassing letters through the U.S. mail to a seven-year-old boy). But even that misguided mission, nurtured by my voracious reading of late ’70s/early ’80s youth novels about kids getting shit done, came from a place desperate to help others. I was the kind of kid that adults would look at and think: she’d better callous up or the world will eat her lunch. And they were right/and I did. A decade of bullying knocked the nice pretty clean out of me. The lesson I came away from adolescence with was that being selfish was the best way to stay alive and sane.
But I hate this. I hate that I pulled into myself to protect myself from the world, that I equated kindness with weakness. But this roughly inculcated lesson is hard to shake, even though I no longer see the world as a series of scenarios waiting to kick my metaphoric ass and do a touchdown victory dance over my bag of bones. (OK–I still see it as this to some extent, but I don’t take it as personally.) And so I give myself reminders and challenges to be nice, to do good. I think nice thoughts all the time. I’m a saint of the good intention, but I don’t always get around to the action part.
My decision to participate in Tupelo Press’ 30/30 fundraising project isn’t entirely altruistic, though, like most of the “good” I end up doing. I have a job that is super hard and serves high needs communities, but I do get paid (in unripened turnips and naughty limericks, but still). I co-created a reading series to fill a gap in our city’s artistic offerings at which I will totally read because I want to read my stuff somewhere. And now I’m participating in a fundraiser for a poetry press because I desperately crave a daily reminder of my failures and inadequacies. That, and I’m trying to figure out how to write more, but the inevitable onset of imposter syndrome will just be a neat bonus.
And so why should you, fair reader, consider helping out, especially with so much other need out there? A lot of people I know have recently been doing fundraisers for LLS: Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, geared toward eradicating blood cancers that keep trying to kill people I love. That is, obviously, amazing. Many other friends of mine do tremendous work for our food-insecure community members, while others are active in a variety of social justice causes. All of these should be supported. At some point, please toss some support their way.
Here, though, I will make a case for poetry, for fostering its small flame. While poetry itself can not stop hunger, it can render the struggle of those in need with immediacy and passion. And while science is still attempting to figure out if a poem has, in fact, cured someone’s cancer (my money’s on anything by Mary Oliver or Wislawa Szymborska), what a poem can most certainly do is underscore the stakes, cataloging fear and loss and fear of loss so that we rage at so much suffering and beg for a chance for more. Tupelo Press happens to do a tremendous job at choosing and crafting phenomenal books of poetry, supporting emerging and established poets alike (poets like Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Lauren Camp, Dan Beachy-Quick, and Hadara Bar-Nadav, who recently selected mi amiga Rebecca Aronson’s book Ghost Child of the Atalanta Bloom as winner of the 2016 Orison Book Prize). I say this even though their journal sent me a big ol’ no about a year and a half ago. I can’t even stay mad at such a great press.
I’m writing one poem every day in June in attempts to raise $500. Please check up on my questionable progress here:
If you’d like to support with a financial donation, there are a few ways to do it.
1. Subscribe to Tupelo Press–Visit: http://www.tupelopress.org/books_subscribe.php
Purchase their incredible 2015 series – 10 books for $129 and they’ll pay the postage! Or choose one of our exciting prior series, or a personalized list of any 9 titles. Put my name (Erin Adair-Hodges) in the
“Is this subscription in honor of a 30/30 poet? If so, please list their name here:” field.
2. Complete the Tupelo Press Donation Form–Visit: https://www.tupelopress.org/donate.php
Scroll down to the bottom of the page, fill out the donation form and send it in with a check or fill in the credit card details. Select “Erin Adair-Hodges” under the
“Is this donation in honor of a 30/30 poet? If so, please select their name here:” field.
3. Donate Using PayPal–Visit: https://www.tupelopress.org/donate.php
Click on the orange “Quick Donation via PayPal” button and complete the entry with either PayPal account details or credit card information.
Put my name (Erin Adair-Hodges) in the “Dedicate my donation, in honor of:” field.
As a thank you for your help, those who donate will receive:
$25 donors will get to choose one of the following:
I will write a poem with any title you give me and dedicate it to the recipient of your choice. (Idea 1000% stolen from a previous participant.)
A broadside with your choice of June’s poems.
A T-shirt with some poetry stuff on it. A quote or something like “Poetry Is My Boyfriend.”
A mix-tape with music and other good stuff you will like.
$50: Any two of the above.
$75: Any three of the above AND a copy of my future book, or should that thing never see the light of day, a video of me doing some really embarrassing dancing.
$100: I don’t even know people who could give this much, so let’s say all of the above and I’ll wash your car while wearing a child’s Darth Vader mask and some clothes I let my son pick out for me.
As a last selling point, I’ll be blogging about all this here. I hope you’ll at least check it out, if only to feel better about your own public life choices.
Thank you for reading and supporting my work and poetry in general. You are the real heroes.