The Enlightened Internet
Alumni Help Internet Users Greet Each New Day in a Poetic Way
By Sarah McGurk
Mickie Kennedy, M.F.A. Creative Writing '96, uses poetry to brighten the day of 50,000 subscribers in more than 80 countries. With his Internet creation Poem-A-Day, he starts off their workdays with an e-mailed poem and short biography of the poet.
The inspiration for Poem-A-Day came about when Kennedy, unable to find a teaching position in the Washington, D.C., area, decided to find a nonpaying outlet for his creative endeavors while developing his technical writing skills at a professional level. Then he discovered the Internet.
"I found thousands and thousands of web pages devoted to people's personal poetry," Kennedy says. "While I was inspired by this, I was disappointed at the lack of sites devoted to established, classical poets as well as the many great contemporary poets being published today."
His first Internet endeavor was the creation of PoetryPreviews.com, a web site devoted to short biographies and reviews of classical and contemporary poets. Poem-A-Day is an online newsletter created by Kennedy in 1997 and maintained by his own MEK Enterprises.
Since then, Kennedy has added various newsletters on trivia, movie reviews, horoscopes, common subscriber pet peeves, jokes, and other topics. This expansion led to the creation of DayTips.com, Inc., a two-year-old company that allows visitors to subscribe to several e-mail-based newsletters, or "e-zines." Kennedy serves as president of the company, which now has three full-time staff and several freelance writers and is an affiliate of Amazon.com. The affiliation allows subscribers to buy books that feature the highlighted poet and provides DayTips.com with a share of any sale made through the site. The site also is funded by paid advertising in the newsletter and other affiliate programs.
Kennedy is helped by his wife, Cindy Obenstine, M.F.A. Creative Writing '96. Obenstine writes two DayTips.com newsletters, including Shemazing, which focuses on remarkable women in history and popular culture. She also contributes trivia tidbits for the company's Sudden Facts. Kennedy and Obenstine began dating while in the poetry program at George Mason. They married in a courthouse ceremony this past Valentine's Day.
Kennedy finds that, with his Internet endeavors, the amount of poetry he writes has fallen. His new path, however, has exposed him to new writers, where he feels his time is better spent developing a greater understanding of poetry in the world.
"I even had a mechanic in Ohio tell me that he bought his first book of poetry as a result of our newsletter," he says. "These are the experiences that feed me as a poet and an avid reader of poetry." Kennedy's own poetry can be found in numerous journals, including Alternative Arts & Literature Magazine, Black Buzzard Review, Pen & Ink Magazine, Bare Foot Grass, and Main Street Rag.
Kennedy, who also has a B.A. in English from East Carolina University, previously served as director of sales of a telecom research firm and senior editor of an online publishing company. When Kennedy decided to continue his education, he chose George Mason. "George Mason allowed me to follow my heart and study a subject that basically has very little application in the real world'poetry," he says.
As for the future, Kennedy has adopted a wait-and-see attitude, acknowledging that his current career could once again become an unpaid hobby. However, Kennedy admits, "While newspaper job listings may never post an ad seeking a qualified poet to explore nature and write verse, I would like to think that studying poetry enriches a person no matter where he or she ends up in life."