To keep track of our progress throughout the semester here in Propel, we use a tool called a GANTT chart. A GANTT chart allows you to enter the main steps in your project as well as it’s start date and duration. You can type in the percentage of progress you have made in each step and the striped bar will fill a solid colour. To see if you are up to speed, you type in the date and a vertical line indicating the day will move to the correct place. All the horizontal bars, representing the tasks that need to be completed will fall to the left of the line. The bars on the right show what is to come next.
My timeline has 15 main sections, however, for convenience’s sake, I have cropped the photo of my GANTT chart early to get a better view of a timeline. The first 7 steps you can see clearly were those in which I wrote my theme poems. These are the first poems to appear when my book, Moonwater, entered into a new part of my book that covered another theme or tone. The next steps that followed were those that had to do with ordering, editing, and formatting all my poems into a book, receiving the cover art, and meeting with the self-publishing team at McNally Robinson to discuss publishing details.
I am both behind and ahead in my project. I am behind as I am late receiving my proof, meaning that I should already have edited and reviewed by now. That said I am not willing to fall behind to a point where I am irreversibly behind in my project. To compensate for the reviewing process being delayed, I have jumped ahead in my timeline. This meant I had to work on planning school tours, writing a script, and reaching out earlier than expected to the event planning team at McNally Robinson. To make up for the lost time with the proof I will be reviewing it over the weekend. This magically creates extra time, as weekends and PD days are not accounted for in our GANTT chart.
In the next few weeks, I will book the tour in schools and be in contact will the event planner at McNally Robinson to discover the next steps in planning a book launch. If all goes as planned, I will be starting on the week of the 21st, touring schools.
Time in the semester is running out, thankfully, the GANTT chart helps us keep track of it.
At this point in the semester, the size of your project can become overwhelming. Which is why it’s important to break it down into smaller more manageable steps which we call milestones. Those milestones represent large portions of your project that need to be completed to finish your project. These milestones are then broken into smaller steps as to not forget any details called action steps. My project has been divided into the following four stages: writing, formatting, publishing, and school tours.
My first milestone is writing. This step compiles writing the theme poems I need for each section of my book as well as scavenging through old notebooks to find works I wrote in the past that fit within the narrative I’m writing today. This milestone also covers the more basic elements in my book such as acknowledgements, the “About the Author”, and an author’s note. Once the following have been edited that brings us to my next stage. I have grouped it as one milestone because these are all the writing-related tasks I need to complete in order to advance to the next stage. After all, is written I need to format and order the poems into the book. This means spacing out long poems with shorter ones and sorting them into the applicable section. The following stage is the last one with steps leading up to and including getting my book of poems printed. I have decided to publish through McNally Robinson as I want to support local business. This means the following stage will include meeting with staff at McNally Robinson, getting proofs, and the real copies printed. Though this step is tie dependent because getting the book published is my priority everything is completed on time I will be touring in a minimum of four different high schools to do spoken word poetry educating about intersectional feminism as well promoting this book.
For the remainder of this week and the upcoming one, I will be completing my writing milestone. I have already written 4/6 theme poems I need and have typed up all the potential poems I wrote in previous years for the collection. Once all the poem writing has been accomplished I will write the other not poetry related parts and format the book as swiftly as I can. Partly because of deadlines partly because I do not find formatting to be the most enthralling work. During this time will also be spending some time away from Propel to be in my school’s musical. But no worries I am determined not to fall behind and will probably be found furiously formatting in the stages’ wings.
A proof of concept is an allotted amount of time to work on a smaller scale version of a project. This is to prove you will be able to accomplish this project on a bigger scale with the resources and time allowed. The project I am pursuing this semester is publishing my own book of poems. During my POC (proof of concept) I had to do the required set up for this book. The process included choosing my story arc, writing new poetry, sourcing feedback, and getting comfortable with the Bookwright software. Bookwright is the software provided by Blurb, the company I’m using to publish.
The hardest part of POC was writer’s block, for example, after writing a poem I had to format it, upload it to bookwright, and send it through a feedback loop. This was difficult. I felt as though when I couldn’t write I was wasting time or that I simply couldn’t do anything else. However, I learned to pivot and try and make the steps that come after writing a poem faster. This hastened the process once I did complete a poem. This includes writing down potential ideas/lines that could become poems, reading through reference texts to inspire themes in my book, and getting feedback on poems I had already written. I came to the realization during this period of time that I only typically write free verse poems. Not that there is anything wrong with free verse. That said, when someone picks up my book when it is a finished product, I want it to show that I am capable of writing in diverse ways and with limitations. This led to me write my poem “The Sirens” which follows a format of three-line stanzas with a repetitive element in between each one.
As I continue to work on my project, I now know that I should always have a list of other productive tasks I need to complete. This means writer’s block is not permission to procrastinate. I plan to write a minimum of 5 poems for my book that follow some structural integrity to challenge myself as a writer.
When completed my poetry book will follow a narrative based around the ocean. It will use water sources as a metaphor for femininity, womanhood as well as the many struggles and gifts that come with it. It will be divided into six sections that recount my experiences as a young woman today. It starts with standing on the water’s edge, to being pulled into the current. From there it encompasses the feeling of drowning. Then finally the journey from floating to learning to harness the power of the water. This book also uses the metaphor of pollution in the ocean resembling misogyny in our world. I hope to do a spoken word poetry tour in schools to promote this book while also covering topics such as feminism, LGBT issues, and environmental sustainability. By the end of the semester my book will be printed and available for sale.
I spent the first semester back at my home school focused on the end goal: get back to Propel. Ever since my final presentation last year I was raring to go! I remember walking back to my car with a euphoric smile on my face. I wanted to replay the semester over and over again. But that couldn’t happen just yet. I’d have to get some mandatory credits if I was to graduate on time before I could return to work on poetry again. So, I went back to Béliveau, admittedly reading Maya Angelou in biology class from time to time. My first time at Propel, I had grown a lot both as a person and a writer. Due to all the challenges in the past semester, I had so much to reflect on. I was glad I had the summer vacation and a term to sift through everything I had learned. Before I knew it, I was cleaning out my locker.
Being a second-year student is refreshing because you avoid the stress associated with being in a new environment. Not to mention the program is completely different from that of traditional schools. Instead, you see the grade elevens where you were a year ago. Nervous and clumping into groups of three or four with kids who share a mutual home school. It’s a great feeling to have that little buzz of excitement and having an idea of where the semester may take you. Not that everything is the same. My first year, my class set the record for the smallest ever group of Propel students with a grand total of 13. This year my class is over double the size at 28. Having that number of students, the room is far more crowded and louder. Not that this is a negative. There is more potential for collaboration and the room is always abuzz with conversation and good vibes.
However, after one year of experience in the program, there’s a definite pressure to excel. As the first few weeks are coming to a close, the focus is shifting from adapting to the new environment and onto our projects. More specifically, what our projects will be.
Publishing has been a lifelong dream of mine. When I was little, I would cut loose leaf papers into quarters and staple them into notebooks. I’d spend hours crafting away plots about young girls living in a forest or caring for their pet horses. Since then, what I find intriguing in books has changed greatly. I also consider myself more of a poetess than a future novelist. If you followed my Propel journey, part of my project consisted of starting a YouTube channel. I’ve been doing spoken word performances now for the past three years and before after a show, a few audience members would come up to me and ask, “Where can I hear more of your poetry?”. I never had an answer until last semester when I started my YouTube channel. I built a platform full of spoken word videos I wrote, recorded, and edited myself. Now I’ve encountered another question, “Are you published?” The answer to this question is no. Not that I haven’t investigated it the possibility. I just haven’t encountered the chance yet. This semester I plan on revising old poems and composing new ones to complete an anthology of my work. Then publishing it independently.
As we advance into the next phases of Propel I look forward to turning this idea into a reality. Still, I remain open to any twists or adjustments my plan may undergo. I’m looking forward to sharing more updates on my experience this term. If there’s one factor you can expect from a semester at Propel, it’s growth.
Each week at Propel has a theme, this upcoming week’s name is “32%” because that is how much of the semester is left. That means time is running out which makes sticking to our timelines crucial. Timelines are essentially schedules that let us know if we are where we should be in our project. When enter the day and the bar jumps to show where we are, each block represents another one of our goals. Here is a picture of my timeline below.
A few things need to be rearranged. My performance at George McDowell is pending to be moved to a later date so we may see change there. I have completed my first writing workflow I also rewrote a poem and have started a new one. Today was spent filming and editing with Mr. Hansen’s help. I should have a finished video by the end of the day!
My agenda for the next week will be finishing the film I started today and hopefully wrapping up my second writing workflow. After those steps are completed I will continue filming and uploading videos to YouTube. I will also start preparing for upcoming performances and participating in local open mics. My next update will be at the end of my time here at Propel and show the completed version of my project. Though I dread my time here coming to an end I am very eager to show off the finished product of my work from these pasts few months.
My project has stayed very similar to how it was described in my previous blog post. I’ve sharpened up a few details such as how many videos I will make, how many new poems will be written, and of course booking performances.
Here at Propel we have “milestones” each milestone represents a small phase of completion in our projects. Some of my most important ones include; writing five new poems with varying tones, filming four poetry videos which I will upload to my YouTube channel to share with the public, creating a clean and fresh place to record, and of course any poetry gigs that may come my way.
The next thing on my agenda is preparing the space I will record in. An “infinity wall” is a wall that is painted in a way so that there are no shadows and it melts seamlessly into the floor. I can use as a background which will be convenient. Accomplishing this consists of painting over this tragic yellow and blue checkered wall to make it completely black. If any of my poetry sounds a little off it may be due to some paint fume induced writing.
Once the room is ready I will get right to work recording. The filming and editing process will be worked around to make time to rehearse and of course to put on real performances. Most of my upcoming presentations are deliveries of my poem “That’s so Gay”, one of the first slam pieces I ever wrote which is a commentary on how LGBTQIA* youth are affected by negative stigma regarding their identity. Other than that, I will be adding the final touches on my new poem “Softness” and hopefully starting a new poem as well.
I look forward to having updates that will show that I’m checking milestones off my list and of course having more to show than a list. Hopefully in upcoming blogs I’ll have videos to link below so you can see what my poetry actually looks/sounds like. Until next time.
I refer to the past month as March Madness. It started with being one of the speakers at the “It’s OK to Rant” event where all proceeds went to the Grandmothers to Grandmothers. I was so honoured to be speaking along side people like Al Simmons, Doug Spiers, and other important Winnipeggers. After that I had the next week performing in my school’s musical and then I was off to Europe! I spent 12 Days in France, Monaco, and Italy. I couldn’t have been more inspired being in such a historical and bold place. Visiting important art, strolling the cobblestone roads, and contemplating crossed legged next to the ocean made me want to do nothing but write. But now I’m back and ready to do just that.
I’ve been doing spoken word presentations for just under two years now and an ongoing problem I’ve encountered is once I’m done presenting if people want to hear more of my work I don’t have anywhere to direct them. So, even if I’m more of an open mic/pen and paper kind of poet I’ve decided to start a YouTube channel. This way audiences can keep up to date with my work and I can expand my client base. Throughout this process I will also be doing live performances I have a few coming up within LRSD and one for the Pembina Trails school division.
This project is going to be a big push for me for a couple reasons. The first being I’m terrible with technology. During POC (“Proof of Concept” a mini project or part of our real project we must complete in two weeks to prove we are capable of the big project.) when Mr. Hansen first handed me a camera and I tripod I was confident setting up the tripod and attaching the camera to it. Then I proceeded to spend the next five minutes trying to figure out why I couldn’t see out of the camera and realized I that the protective lens was still doing its job. Learning about the technological component has been a lot harder than I anticipated. Though I know by the time I’m done I’ll appreciate having the skills that I’m stumbling with now.
Listening to your own voice recorded is the bane of my existence has become a common part of the editing process. I’ve also learned it’s hard to judge the quality of your audio when you’re cringing. However, watching home videos with those awkward groggy interviews your parents make you do on holidays will become far more bearable.
Challenging my abilities as a poet and writing a few pieces that are different from my typical sound is one part of this project that is far more up my alley. I will be using brighter and softer tones with a more relaxed flow. This will stop me from falling into a pattern and my poetry becoming my own echo chamber. As someone who also loves working with feminist topics I am very excited to follow the trend of finding power in “softness” something traditionally regarded as feminine and watered down.
Now I cannot wait to get started on my project! Feeling that I have direction and knowing I can start hitting milestones is very motivating. I am very excited that soon these blogs won’t be the only type of my writing that I am sharing.