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3:15 Experiment Celebrates 20 years of writing in altered states of consciousness

August 20, 2012

Poetry (Photo credit: Kimli)

We’re more than halfway through the 20th year of the 3:15 Experiment. But you can still join in! This year, I am also inviting people to record and track their dreams and other active imaginational experiences of writing in altered states. I’d also love to lead some social dreaming out at Burning Man this year and host a active imagination writing experiment. I was actually the first person to do spoken word in the cafe at Burning Man and I’ve also done magnetic poetry on my car and on a refrgierator door that I brought out there! We’ll see if it comes to pass that I get out there again this year…

But what is the 3:15 Experiment?

The 3:15 Experiment is an unusual and annual writing experiment where poets around the globe wake every August morning at 3:15am and write. By exploring hypnogogic and hypnopompic states (between sleeping and waking), the exercise challenges writers, provides insight into the collective sleeping/dreaming mind, and creates an epic conversation through an unusual ritual that is individual yet collaborative, disciplined yet open.

In 2001, Anne Waldman described The 3:15 Experiment as an act that “alters the lone-voice-in-the-dark-night-of-void mode by being a group assault on time, a break of time, a writing for time, a writing outside time, a writing in time, writing above or below time, and to the north, south, east & west of time.”

Danika Dinsmore and Bernadette Meyer started The 3:15 Experiment in 1993 at Naropa to explore states of consciousness and writing, recording what was happening during “3:15 AM mind” with the idea of discovering what connections would be made while writing separately, but together, at the same time for a month while under hypnogogic influences. The experiment is now an international movement of poets writing then sharing their 3:15 poems– offering the opportunity to discover the minds of fellow 3:15 participants.

As the website became more automated, organizers invited anyone who wanted to join and post their poems. The site now hosts thousands of poems written at 3:15am with over one hundred poets posting; two anthologies have been published and individual poets have published 3:15 poems and collections. With the advent of a Facebook group, the Experiment has attracted more members interested in discovering and exploring their own 3:15 mind and participating in a collective and collaborative experiment. We anticipate hundreds of people setting off this August on the 20th Anniversary of this journey into writing in altered states, in ritual, and in collective consciousness.

For my 2012 summer fieldwork at Pacifica Graduate Institute, I will be co-facilitating this year’s experiment, co-editing with Danika Dinsmore an anthology of 3:15 poems from the past 20 years, exploring the archived 3:15 material to look for themes, convergences, and divergences, interviewing participants, and inviting 3:15 participants to record their dreams as well as where on the globe they are writing.

If you’d like to join us, you can register at the website, join the Facebook group, or just jump in by setting your alarm to go off at 3:15am during August 2012.



  • Begin at 3:15 AM on August 1. Continue each day until August 31.
  • You may write any length, style, form, content, voice, rhythm, etc.
  • DO NOT EDIT your work. This is raw stuff, baby. That’s part of the experiment. You are welcome to edit, collage, break apart the poems later for whatever purpose you choose, but please SHARE THE RAW STUFF with us on the website after the experiment.
  • (Optional) Do not read what you have written until the month is over, except to skim the work to make sure everything is legible.
  • TIP: do not use a felt tip pen unless you don’t care about ink stains on your bed. Many a poet has fallen asleep in the middle of writing.
  • If you can help it, don’t even get out of bed! The point is to ride that dream state, that precarious point between sleeping and waking and sleeping.
  • 2012 Year Special: please record your dreams

See you at 3:15am! I look forward to reading your submissions to the 20th anniversary anthology!

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