Drunk Poetry Circle: A Group for Writers with Feelings—And Wine

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So reads one of the many entries on a blog buried deep within the Internet, called Drunk Poetry Circle. The submissions range from what sounds great as a slam poem to what could be a haiku, if the author weren’t drunk. That’s the beauty of the DPC: poetry is anything you want it to be, and after a few glasses of wine, you lose those evil “poetry is for nerds” and “I couldn’t write a poem to save my life” feelings. You just start typing, and whatever comes out is what you’re truly feeling.

Being drunk on the Internet isn’t a new phenomenon. Hannah Hart built a comedy following on booze and cooking with her YouTube series My Drunk Kitchen, and Funny or Die’s Drunk History was so successful that they developed their own show with Comedy Central. Drunk people are (usually) fun—they’re especially fun to watch.

Paste Design Editor Sarah Lawrence cracked open her third beer and sat down to chat with Maura Friedman and Julia Carpenter, the creators of Drunk Poetry Circle.

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Who are you? Where do you come from, emotionally and geographically? What is your background?

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Maura Friedman: I’m a multimedia journalist who makes photos, videos, GIFs and codes at the Chattanooga Times Free Press in Chattanooga, Tennessee. But I’m from Georgia, and it’s usually on my mind. Emotionally? Usually either just above or just below contentment.

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Julia Carpenter: I’m a journalist at The Washington Post. I’m a Pisces. I wrote my first poems at home in Savannah, and almost all of them were about rain, and then later, about how my mom didn’t understand me. (I come back to these two themes even now)

What gave you the idea to create Drunk Poetry Circle?

Friedman: When I graduated college, my poetry fell into a void. I didn’t have an in-town community to read and edit my pieces or an audience or the self-assurance to submit my work anywhere. Having a potential place or purpose for my work is a real driver of creativity for me, probably because I’ve always been rooted in journalism and publishing. When I bemoaned all this to Julia, we realized we had kindred woes. We became each other’s editors and audience and platform in emails. Seeing Julia’s work inspired mine, and knowing she would look forward to reading whatever I sent made me write much more often.

We started jokingly referring to our little email correspondence as “drunk poetry circle” because drinking lowered our inhibitions to write, so plenty of our poems were written under the influence. We made it for other people who maybe needed some writing friends or a push. I guess you could say Drunk Poetry Circle is founded on the principle that everything flows better when you’re not alone—and I’d absolutely include alcohol in that sentiment.

Carpenter: I had feelings, Maura had feelings, and I had beer, and Maura had beer. And we also had too many inhibitions to share our poetry publicly, so we missived back and forth for an entire year before taking this thing online, to correct that exact feeling of inhibition and to empower other folks like us to overcome that through verse and vino.

How do you describe Drunk Poetry Circle to people?

Friedman: Drunk Poetry Circle is a weekly newsletter that features drunk poets and their drunk poems from all corners of the Internet! We start each week with an introduction that discusses whatever thread ties the selected pieces of work together (and makes a drinking pun) and have a quote about drinking from a literary master. Then come the poems! We take submissions at drunkpoetrycircle@gmail.com, via Google Docs Form and archive all the pieces on our Tumblr.

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What have you learned from this blog? Learned anything about yourselves, or seen any pattern in submissions?



Carpenter: I've learned that my taste in poetry is so much more universal than I could possibly have imagined. When we first started this, part of me was definitely envisioning sifting through slush every week to find the one rose in the snow. But I'm continually impressed and moved and overjoyed with the quality of the poetry people send us. It speaks, I think, to a greater need for spaces like this on the Internet. Send us your bedraggled, intoxicated poems, and we'll give you the space to feel and think and observe all these things.

Friedman: I've learned everyone is so sad! And they're in love. And they're heartbroken. It's been really interesting and powerful to see these universal themes repeat in our submissions. And for me, it's been rewarding to see the caliber of work people entrust us to push out into the world. It's really good stuff.

What's your favorite submission you've received? What's your favorite drunk poem?

Maura: Picking a favorite submission is like picking a favorite ice cream flavor. So, very hard. I'm going to go with a tie between this one by pwkasay and this by Julia (also cookie dough and peach for the ice cream flavors). Favorite drunk poem I've written? (Was that the second half of the question?) Maybe this.

Carpenter: My favorite of all time was this, by Maura. I still think about it, a lot. But in a (very tight) second place, I second Maura's enthusiasm for pwkasay's work, and this drunk sketch page, from the inimitable Ally White. I enjoy any time a familiar name drifts into the inbox with a little note of “Keep me anonymous for now.” I love that — it's like we've created this little secret club.

Favorite drink to write poetry with?

Friedman: Boxed red wine. Always and forever.

Carpenter: Do I sound like a total lush if I just say “alcohol, period”?

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