If you and I have bumped into one another sometime over the last six months, or grabbed coffee, or made pancakes together, you probably know a little bit about egg. Well, here’s a little bit more.
Last August, I was craving more poetry in my life. New poems, surprising poems. Poems that felt real to me. More than that, I wanted poems to interrupt my days. I wanted living and poetry to become the same thing (still do).
I remember walking around the city on a very hot day that month, telling Daniel all of this (over chocolate ice cream cones, I think),
and it hit me that if I want these things, a lot of other people must want these things too. So egg was born.
Inspired in part by the Dial-a-Poem poets of the 60s (yes—call a number to get a poem!), I decided to take advantage of this amazing technology we’ve got called email. I would send out a poem via email to anyone who wanted to sign up. For free, of course. Because why not?
(Image of John Giorno, from Katie Beha’s Become Your Own Yawn in which she describes Dial-a-Poem as “a way of experiencing art through the very facts of our daily life.”)
But I wouldn’t send out poems from the books on my shelves, partially because I don’t like to make a habit of infringing copyright but mostly because I wanted to see what was out there. I wanted to see what would come in if I opened up egg for submissions.
Daniel and I got to building egg right away. I sketched out the simple design in my head.
Daniel programmed it and put a lovely speckle on it.
Then egg spent a few months incubating. The subscribe page displayed a message that the project was in beta, and I watched the subscribers start to slowly trickle in. I used two forms of advertising to bring in subscribers: (1) word of mouth and (2) one mass email to the all poets I know that both explained egg and called for submissions.
To my language-loving friends:I’ve been working on a little side project, and it’s about to get real. I’m letting you know because I think you’d like it.It’s called egg, and it’s an online poetry magazine, delivered one poem per week via email. Sign up, get a poem every week. Simple and awesome, right?Even better: submissions are reader-generated. It’s incredibly easy [and free!] to submit a poem and get your writing out there.If you think that sounds pretty sweet, sign up. Better yet, submit a poem. Better still, forward this little announcement to anyone you know who might be into it.Here’s to making awesome things in 2012!Shayne
I had a tiny but persistent fear at the beginning that no one would submit. That I would tell everyone about this great new poetry email and then be forced to write poems under pen names to send out every week—or worse yet, never deliver at all.
Turns out, though, plenty of folks were into it. Not only did the subscribers keep rolling in, but lots of people were submitting, people I’d never met before, people who lived in Ohio and California and Arizona. I was right; there were more people out there who wanted a mid-week poetry interruption.
In December, Daniel and I created a MailChimp template that looked just like the website. By this point, I knew enough html and css to make it look almost like I wanted it to, but he taught me some pretty cool tricks along the way. Ah, the benefits of living with a handsome computer genius.
When I felt like I had enough submissions to sustain the email for a while if all the poets were to suddenly stop writing, egg launched.
The first email went out the first week of 2012. Since then, egg‘s been tweeting lots of lines from poems.
each is accepted into as much light as it will take, then/ the heart moves roomier — A. R. Ammons, The City Limits
— egg (@eggpoetry) January 3, 2012
And people continue to subscribe, one by one, and people keep submitting their poems, which takes a whole lot of guts and awesomeness.
Sitting at home on a Saturday morning, writing poems? Send one our way and you might see it in “print”! eggpoetry.com
— egg (@eggpoetry) January 28, 2012
So, what next? I’m happy to let egg grow organically and see where it goes. I’m also dreaming of a one-off print version, perhaps a collection of the best of egg at the end of the year. We’ll see.
And finally, if you want to make something, make it.