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I went rogue this year.
While I had followed the traditional rules of The 3:15 Experiment for the past five years I had participated, I decided this year to try something different. I had begun seeing someone late last year and decided not to subject her to the bizarre middle-of-the-night incantations we all invoke. As most of us know, while we think the experiment is pretty cool and will gladly suffer a month’s worth of sleepless euphorics, our significant others often morph into death spewing zombies when wakened unnecessarily for a piddle of poetry.
So, rather than drag her unwilling into the experiment, I decided to try something I’d been thinking about for a couple of years.
The 3:15 Experiment is largely predicated on two notions: first, that the mind as it wakens from a deep slumber will still be attached to a dream state, or linger in an otherworldly realm, bringing back fragments and snatches of images as it steps back across the hypnopompic line into reality. The second, that if all participants are awakening and writing at the same time, it might be interesting to compare poems and find common ground to see how connected our collective conscience is.
My experiment postulates that jarring oneself awake at a prescribed time actually works against the experiment, in the sense that an alarm clock, even the most mild one, forces the mind awake and focuses the attention momentarily on the alarm itself, jerking the mind away from any dreamlike inspiration before attempting to write. Often I would be so surprised at waking up, I would be forcing myself to write, and more often than not drawing a blank.
This year, what I did instead was allow myself to wake up naturally in the middle of the night, whenever that might be, and ease out of sleep to do my writing. The result seemed to be that I woke primarily between 5:00am and 6:30am, a couple of times after 7:00am, and once a week or so between 2:30am and 4:30am. The poems themselves, while I have not been through them yet, already feel richer and more interesting than poems in years past. My biggest complaint about these poems of past years is that they felt like diary entries more than anything; this year, they felt more substantial even as I was writing them.
As for whether there are commonalities with poems of the same day, that remains to be seen. Until other poets enter their work, I won’t be able to compare them.
And so maybe I cheated a little this year, but it is an experiment, after all.
September 3, 2007