Four Poems Published in the GNU Journal

As I mentioned last week, I am excited to announce GNU, National University’s literary magazine published four of my poems in their Spring/Summer 2017 print issue! I wrote these poems during the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program and they are some of my best recent work. If you don’t know about the GNU, according to their WordPress site, “the GNU seeks to create a comprehensive creative platform for both readers and writers.” The GNU goes on to describe content they are interested in:

“Who among us has never enjoyed a genre considered non-literary by some? A great horror story, an engaging science fiction tale, a compelling young adult narrative, a Sunday morning comic (or two). Who is to say these are less important to our culture than writings with a more traditional flair?

It could be argued that one must sample all types of writing in order to gain a panoramic understanding of this delicious literary soup we are lucky enough to savor. Anyway, lovers of great writing will recognize it as such regardless of genre or style. So pull a chair up to our table. That’s right. There is plenty of room and something for everyone. Enjoy.”

One of the reasons I have been hesitant to publish more of my poems on my site here is because some publications refuse to accept any “previously published” poetry. In most cases, this includes online mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. I am putting together a calendar of publications where my poetry is a great fit and I don’t want to jeopardize any future opportunities. At the same time, most publications simply assume first serial rights. However, all rights revert back to contributors upon publication, so I am able to re-publish my work elsewhere providing proper acknowledgment is given to GNU Journal.

These are the four poems, first published in GNU literary journal’s Spring/Summer 2017 issue: Flushed,” “Pünctüosophy,”No, an Anti-Sonnet,” and “To the Lost Ones.”

Keep writing and seeking publication!

Cheers,

Bryan

To the Lost Ones

C.K. parody t-shirt featuring the Muppets –
stolen by my sister in 1996.
Bomber Jacket from Basic Training, 1998,
disappeared during a deployment in 2005.
Four-Leaf-Clover hat, a gift from an ex-girlfriend,
thrown in a San Francisco river by my best friend.
Kangol Wool Driver Cap, black, 7¼,
left on the roof of my car in the college parking lot.
Army Battle Dress Uniform –
exchanged for Army Combat Uniform in 2006,
soon-to-be traded in for Operational Camouflage Pattern.
Hideous Christmas sweater,
decisively abandoned in a laser tag lost-&-found.
Three-piece pin-stripe suit, unworn,
donated to Goodwill Industries of Boston Massachusetts.
Eight sets of Army Desert Camouflage Uniforms,
worn on more than 55 convoys in Iraq, no longer
with us due to fair wear and tear.
Men’s Large Board Shorts, Hawaiian pattern,
taken by the wind while air-drying on A3 in Deutschland 2008.
18th Sustainment Brigade Combat Service Identification Badge,
lent to an ex-best friend in 2012. Never returned.
New pair of New Balance Fresh Foam Zantes and white running socks,
sacrificed to the mud in 2013 as I pushed a careless nurse’s car free.
“Golden Boy,” as I christened my favourite shirt,
perished after nearly 67 washing cycles.
Army Grey Physical Training Uniform –
traded in for Improved Physical Fitness Uniform in 2000,
traded in for the Army Physical Fitness Uniform in 2015.
Arizona carpenter jeans, purchased in 1997,
threadbare and out-of-style according to another ex.
Countless men’s sweatshirts, extra large,
now hanging in countless ex’s closets.
No tears for the lost,
for those tired, poor, huddled masses of clothes.

 

*Originally published in National University’s GNU literary journal, Spring Summer 2017 edition.

No, an Anti-Sonnet

The only thing we have to fear is fear
itself — thus spake Franklin Delano Roo—
sevelt; thirty-second President of
the United States of America,
but, I fear the sonnet, whether Petrar—
chan, Italian, Shakespearean, or an—
y of the countless sub-sonnets,
the bastard sonnets: caudates, curtails, stretched
(which is exactly what it sounds like), the
submerged, redoublés, sequences, and the
Spenserian (oh please); I fear forced rhyme,
I fear writing to meet a quota of
lines; I list rhyme schemes with Ponzi’s schemes and
fear the words, the lines, the rhymes, the inspir—
ation will one day run dry and I will
be left with a blank sheet, hundreds of blank
sheets of paper and hundreds of favoured
pens such that the writing is never com—

 

*Originally published in National University’s GNU literary journal, Spring Summer 2017 edition.

#SorryNotSonnetting

Pünctüosophy

	For Christian Bök

the beady eyes of the ümlaut smile
from an otherwise drab page • fronting
and roünding, they draw my own eyes into
their marionette gaze • popping in and oüt
like so many curious woodland creatüres • 

all hail mighty macrōn • leader of lesser
punctuation • the frightening unibrōw
overgrowing hidden eyes • lōng and heavy
plank abōve letters • ageless and timeless
and ruling with an irōn fist •

around the corner, the circumflêx • êyêbrows
chevroned • wêak • turned inward and upward
in confusion • the duncêcap, antiquated and
obsolete •hopelessly lost among hêaps
of othêr lost marks • 

the comically tiny circus håt • overlooked
and unnecessary • nåme unknown • causing
more confusion than it is worth • å dying
breed, hiding out in Norwåy • seeking asylum
from macrōn’s råge • 

infiñity without the opposing curves • the
tilde stretches over her territory • lyiñg on
her side, the debutañte reclines on a chaise
lounge • waiting for her Spañish priñce •
figure eight defeated ∞

 

*Originally published in National University’s GNU literary journal, Spring Summer 2017 edition.

Anniversary

Changed from “elPitchford…” to “Poetry at the Edge of the World” on Thursday August 31, 2017. I’m keeping my web address the same (bryanjpitchford). I want my title to reflect the content of my blog and “poetry” is far more appropriate and indicative of what I am publishing than my own moniker.

National University CrestSeptember 14th was the one-year anniversary of my first official blog post! It was a simple, 41-word post entitled “MFA Programs” with no opening or closing salutation. In September I was just past the midway point in my own Master of Fine Arts pursuit and I was excited to see the article.

It was difficult for me to attend a brick-and-mortar location with a full-time career and other regular and irregular commitments so I opted for the online program with National University.

My second blog post wouldn’t follow until three months later when I started the Blogging University assignments on December 28, 2016.

What a year it has been! I finished my MFA in June, I have a baby girl due in a few months, and I started the Army’s Command and General Staff College (CGSC), which, for Active Duty, is a Masters-producing program. For National Guard and Reserve Components, we have the option to transfer up to 16 credits toward a Management Master’s Degree with Army Operations and National Security Specialisation. No thank you. After devoting two years toward a Master of Fine Arts and committing to 18 months toward CGSC, I have a feeling I will need a break! If I do return to school at any point afterward, I recently discovered I have nearly 36 months of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill available at 60% and Old Dominion University has a Doctor of Philosophy in English online!

These past few weeks have been busy! Hurricane Irma appeared and got Florida all spun up. I was one of the 10,000 Florida National Guardsmen (Army and Air Force) called to State Active Duty for hurricane relief. It was a learning experience and I loved planning logistics missions in support of the State of Florida!

During these busy times, National University’s literary journal, the GNU, published their Spring/Summer 2017 print issue. I submitted four poems and they published all four so I am stoked about that!

I am currently editing two poems to submit to American Poetry Journal. I want to start a regular schedule of submitting to journals and literary magazines. I am still shopping around for a publisher for my MFA manuscript. Shouldn’t be too difficult, I just haven’t put as much effort into it as I could, though I expect things to slow down soon and I’ll be able to focus on publishers, their submission requirements, and their deadlines. Wish me luck!

Keep writing!

Cheers,

Bryan

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing!

MFAYesterday I received my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in the mail from National University. The degree was conferred on July 16, 2017, so, of course I have been waiting impatiently! My pursuit of this degree was laborious and lengthy, but absolutely worthwhile!

I thank God for opening all of the doors required and providing me the opportunity to follow my dream of earning a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing with a focus on Poetry. In the Bible, James 1:7 says “Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.”

This journey started more than ten years ago with the Virginia Army National Guard paying for my Associates Degree. It continued when the University of South Florida Army Senior Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program awarded me a scholarship for a Bachelor of Arts Degree at Saint Leo University. It culminated in the Florida Army National Guard providing me with tuition assistance to attend National University.

Second, I thank my loving wife Crista for supporting me throughout these past two years. Without you taking on the additional burdens around the house, I would not have been able to succeed. Thank you for your editing and encouragement. Thank you for understanding. Thank you in advance for allowing me to continue my education with a Doctor of Philosophy in English from Old Dominion University Online with my Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

I don’t have the time or the memory to thank everyone, but I would like to mention a few people with particular influences on my life.

In chronological order, I thank the late Dr. Kurt van Wilt, my professor for ENG335 Verse Writing as well as my HON499 Senior Honors Project mentor at Saint Leo University. You welcomed everyone in your classroom as equals. You opened our eyes to poetry and Native American heritage. I owe you a debt of gratitude and I will never forget you!

Also, thank you to Dr. Mark “Tiger” Edmonds, my professor for ENG202 Creative Writing I at Saint Leo University and resident of “The Redoubt.” Your travels and travel writing inspire me as well as your survival of Vietnam-era Army life. I remember most of your stories from class if not the assignments themselves. You’re a great friend and writing mentor.

Helene Ekloff and Kristin Powers. Both of you are true pen pals and poet friends. Both of you have kept me thinking and kept me writing even if we aren’t actively corresponding. Your spirits took up permanent residence in my subconscious. Thank you for your encouragement and creativity. I don’t think either of you know the profound effect you have had on me and my writing so I am telling you now.

Patricia Stevenson-Gingrich, former leader of the Big Bend Poets, former editor of the Florida State Poets Association Anthology, and current friend. Your encouragement and commentary on my poems are invaluable!

I thank Carey Millsap-Spears, MFA classmate and fellow poet. Your peer critiques were immensely helpful during class. I value your judgment and I look forward to further correspondence in workshopping poems.

Mr. Frank Montesonti, MFA, my professor for MCW645 Seminar in Poetry, MCW640B Advanced Workshop in Poetry, MCW660 Thesis I (Practicum), and MCW670 Thesis II (Revision). You enriched my knowledge of the poetic world and expanded my mind to fascinating poets and poetry I never knew existed. All of this, I might add, without Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, though Dean Young provokes similar responses.

And my final “finally,” the duende, the elf / goblin / hobgoblin / leprechaun / puck (punk) / spirit / sprite, whatever you may know it as. You are my inspiration, my little prodding writing conscience, my Phœnix. One day I will catch you.

Keep writing!

Cheers,

Bryan

Poetry in Motion

I took another week off from posting. This past week I returned from two weeks in Wisconsin for an Army Officer development school. The Command and General Staff Officer’s Course (CGSOC) is the next level of education for my promotion to Lieutenant Colonel! I met some great Officers, made friends, and learned a great deal. The course itself isn’t difficult with everyone working together, but the reading was intense, lasting until past midnight most days. I needed a break from posting and it has taken me just about an entire week to recuperate.

This blog isn’t about my experiences in the military, but it is a large part of who I am. Not that I feel I need to explain myself. It was a great two weeks. And now – on to the poeming!

~†~

Poetry in Motion
Variations by Federico García Lorca

Poetry in Motion: 100 Poems From the Subways & buses, W. W. Norton & Company, 1996 was one of the first poetry books I remember buying in my youth. Back then I didn’t know Poetry in Motion was a larger scale project from Poetry Society of America. I saw a cool little book sitting on the shelf at Barnes & Noble and flipped through it. As far as short anthologies go, it’s a great introduction to poetry for beginners. It features poets from Dante Alighieri to Langston Hughes to Shel Silverstein and more! Every poem is accessible for any level poet.

Poetry in Motion 2The poems from this book appeared only in New York City as a collaboration between the Poetry Society of America and MTA New York City Transit. There is a second book called Poetry in Motion from Coast to Coast: 120 poems from the subways and the buses which includes poems in subways, buses, and even billboards in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Fort Collins, Houston, Iowa City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Pioneer Valley, and Washington, D.C. I love that this program has made a lasting impact on so many lives around the country! In the introduction to the second book, they quote from a letter written to MTA New York City Transit which has received hundreds of correspondence about the program, “I look forward to riding the subway because I know I’m going to discover a very special poem that will add meaning to my life.”

Poetry in Motion 3I have not been fortunate enough to live in a city that takes poetry seriously enough to post poems in public transportation. This past year, I successfully petitioned Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry to sign a proclamation for National Poetry Month, but I’m still working on poetry events. Jacksonville is a huge city with a bustling art scene! We should be able to band together in our common interests and even get other people interested in poetry!

Keep writing!

Cheers,

Bryan

 

Broadsided Press

Broadside
The most recent broadside. “Thistle” Words by Jennifer Jean. Art by David Bernardy.

If you’ve never heard the term, a broadside is defined by Merriam-Webster as

(1): a sizable sheet of paper printed on one side (2): a sheet printed on one or both sides and folded b: something (such as a ballad) printed on a broadside.

I love when companies or individuals define a word with that word. Sure, a broadside is printed on a broadside! 🙂

Broadsided Press is a great literary magazine working to resurrect the broadside and keep it alive for generations to come. Their website provides a succinct summary for the history of broadsides as well as a nice “About” page explaining their humble, yet far-reaching mission of “putting literature and art on the streets”. One of the coolest things about Broadsided Press is that they offer 229 FREE broadsides for anyone to download, print, and display where they choose!

Check their submission guidelines here and if you have an account, follow them on Submittable.

The final thing I’ll say on this topic (for now) is the Library of Congress has a wonderful collection on broadsides. “Printed Ephemera: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera” introduces the reader to broadsides, presents historical information, explains their intriguing history, and offers up beautiful examples.

Keep writing and challenge yourself to pair your poems with art! Find an artist or poet to collaborate with. Whether the collaboration is intentional or not, the results could be amazing. It’s not unlike ekphrasis.

Cheers,

Bryan

Featured Poet for August on Twitterization Nation

I am proud to announce that Twitterization Nation selected me as one of their featured poets for August! They chose me along with five other poets for their website series and subsequent online literary magazine. The five other poets are Carrie Danaher Hoyt, Richard Green, Charika Swanepoel (@CharikaSW), Elisabeth Horan, and Ken Woodall. If you are not familiar with Twitterization’s work, I enjoy their description and call for submissions:

“We are seeking “Twitterized” poems that are 140 characters or less (however, we have already accepted longer poems) to be featured as a weekly guest through our Twitterization Nation blog, Twitter, and Facebook sites. In addition, we plan to use this collection as our “Preview” Issue for our online literary magazine.”

I first came across Twitterization Nation during Rattle magazine’s Monthly Ekphrastic Poetry Challenge for June 2017. The art was Ryan Schaufler’s photograph “No Name #2” for which I wrote a piece entitled, “Good Hope Road [or, Nostalgia is a Fond Memory]”. I did not win, but I pressed on and submitted seven poems to their website. The poems they are using August 1-7, 2017 are “Red City”, “Eyes”, “Paint by Numbers”, “Scratch Hill”, “Surfin’ Byrd”, “Wet Puppy”, and “Bus Stop”.

Follow Twitterization Nation on WordPress (https://twitterization.wordpress.com), Twitter (@NationOTwits) and Facebook (https://facebook.com/twitterization.nation).

Keep writing and seeking publication!

Cheers,

Bryan