Library of Congress Magazine, the Poetry Issue

loc-magazine

I am a long-time practitioner of rabbit-holing, mostly voluntary. I’ll feel a particular curious itch and start some cursory research which leads me to another topic and another website and multiple articles. This is a near-daily occurrence. I love to learn and, only to a slightly lesser extent, I enjoy research.

One of my favorite things to research is poetry. Whether poetic forms, new and old poets, poetry contests, lit magazines specializing in poetry, poetry chapbooks, local poetry groups and readings, et cetera. I find and learn more every day whether about the craft itself, or organizations I didn’t know about, or resources to further my understanding. Poetry is not dead.

I have sort of a plan for what I want to write about and publish on this blog from week to week, but then I find something else and I have to write about it. I found this gem recently through the Library of Congress‘s website. If you haven’t checked out the Library of Congress as a resource, you are missing out. I discovered the Library of Congress all over again because I stumbled across their magazine. Not only that, but I found that they published a beautiful 30-page edition all on poetry! The March/April 2015 edition is subtitled “POETRY NATION”. Of course in all caps, poetry is significant! The following link will take you directly to the catalog of magazines: Library of Congress Magazine, Vol. 4 No. 2: Mar.-Apr. 2015. The short description accompanying the pdf is:

The Library has been a repository and patron of poetry throughout its history and is the home of the Poet Laureate. Also: Rosa Parks and the struggle for racial justice, Walt Whitman, Billie Holliday and more.

You can download a pdf of the issue at 2.25MB, OR, you can contact the Library of Congress staff to request a physical copy. I am writing this blog because I e-mailed the Library of Congress to request the poetry issue. I wasn’t entirely a believer when I e-mailed them, but sure enough, I received mine within a few days. Here is all of the information you need to contact their Public Affairs Office:

For More Information

Office of Communications
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave., S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20540-1600
Voice: 202.707.2905
Fax: 202.707.9199
Email: pao@loc.gov

As always, keep writing!

Cheers,

Bryan

Open Mic Events

If you are into poetry at all, I encourage you to attend an open mic night near you. I have read at four poetry readings since I began taking the craft more seriously last year and I am addicted.

The first read was more than a little nerve-wracking. I believe my right leg punched a hole in the venue floor jack-hammer-style. I had all of the common fears of public speaking when I stood up, but the crowds quickly put me at ease. I hope that you will find poets and poetry connoisseurs to be just as welcoming, gracious, and supportive as I have. There is something crisp and pure and freeing about reading your poetry or other poets to a crowd.

With an event tomorrow I want to add a bit of humor. I found this post on The Best American Poetry blog. I’m not sure if Daniel Nester has been to many poetry readings, but he is spot-on accurate with his observations. This is meant to be humorous. I hope no one takes offense, I mean, come on, we all know this is true and if we can’t laugh at ourselves…

20 Things Not to Do at an Open Poetry Reading

by Daniel Nester, November 05, 2015

  1. Write your name illegibly on the sign-up sheet.
  2. Complain to host when he/she can’t read/pronounce your last name.
  3. Go over the allotted time, so much so that you are mistaken for the “featured” reader, who has traveled three hours on an interstate to promote her most recent book, and has advertised the event on her personal website, Facebook author page, sent announcements college alumni listserv (undergraduate and graduate), as well as posted to Twitter and Snapchat accounts.
  4. Go over time by reading a poem that combines several short poems into a single, multi-sectioned SuperPoem®, which uses different voices (precocious child, mermaid, Muddy Waters) and which features with an epigraph, a joke in Latin, which you do not translate and yet giggle to yourself before proceeding with main body of the poem.
  5. Tell host you need to read first, last, or “when my friends get here.”
  6. While onstage, complain about how bad most poetry is then fail to realize the mountain of social privilege and assumed power required to proclaim oneself the final gatekeeper of what counts as good or bad poetry.
  7. Complain about writing workshops.
  8. Then lead one yourself.
  9. Read poem you just wrote about being outside at a coffee shop, which addresses your thoughts about how hard it is to write a poem in a coffee shop, what with all clanging of porcelain and milk getting frothed.
  10. Mention journal your poem was published in before you read it, as if to say, you better like this poem.
  11. Complain about poetry slam’s format and hip-hop MC style, being competitive or too showy or adhering to some random, three-minute limit.
  12. Proceed to perform a poem, in hip-hop MC style, that clocks in at two minutes, 57 seconds.
  13. Plan another open mic with the same people at the open mic where you are reading.
  14. Prick thigh with ballpoint pen every time anyone says the following words: “darkness,” “loamy,” “gleam,” “amongst,” “nevermore,” “nothingness,” “kumquat,” “capitalism,” “shame.”
  15. Complain about the exclusiveness and ivory tower mentality of colleges and all those student-types who take creative writing classes.
  16. Talk about how you first discovered poetry with professor X in college.
  17. Avoid speaking into the microphone provided by your host, then ask if people can hear you.
  18. Read narrative lyric poem about any of the following: 1. your dog; 2. going out into the woods and feeling vaguely religious; 3. Sharing hummus with your lover.
  19. Precede your poem by explaining everything about the poem—the story, inspiration, place it was written, time of year the action takes place—and then repeat this same information in the title of the poem. For example, your poem might be inspired by your going to art galleries with an ex-lover in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, in the middle of winter. Explain all this, and then introduce your poem entitled “Visiting Art Galleries with Ex-Lover, Chelsea, Mid-Winter, 2009.”
  20. Promote an open mic at another open mic.

I hope you get all the laughs that I do out of Nester’s tongue-in-cheek post.

I can’t be any more excited to attend tomorrow’s event after a nearly two-month hiatus. We did not hold a reading in December due to the holiday so we have had plenty of time to prepare new work. Tomorrow’s reading is themed “Brave New World” and I have two poems to read.

Keep writing and get out there to read your work!

Cheers,

Bryan

Magnetic Poetry

I ordered The Magnetic Poetry Book of Poetry with an Amazon gift card I received for Christmas. I have enjoyed Magnetic Poetry for as long as I have dabbled in poetry and this book is a great new edition to my collection!

As I read through Robert Pinsky’s introduction to the book, I couldn’t help but think about the words of my professor and mentor at National University, Frank Montesonti. In the week 6 lecture for MCW640B Advanced Workshop in Poetry II, Frank wrote of “associative leaping” and Dean Young.

“What Dean Young does in poems, I call “associative leaping.” After all, his movements through a poem are not random.

Robert Bly describes leaping: “in terms of language, leaping is the ability to associate fast. In a great poem, the considerable distance between the associations, that is, the distance the spark has to leap, gives the lines their bottomless feeling, their space, and the speed (of the association) increases the excitement of poetry.”

Sometimes Young’s associations may feel random, and sometimes he misses his mark, but where the excitement lies is in “the distance the spark has to leap.”

The pleasure in associative leaping is like the pleasure in feeling out the third term of a metaphor. The poem becomes an associative exercise–the poet takes you somewhere unexpected.”

I have found that many times the magic of magnetic poetry is in the associations that arise. The words wait impatiently in a mob on my refrigerator door. They wait for my poetic hand to sculpt them into a meaningful order, or is it further disorder? So often I look over the words and two or three of them catch my eye in an amusing, unexpected, and unique sequence that makes sense in the poetic context.

Currently, my wife and I use the refrigerator to write and rewrite magnetic poems back and forth. It’s a fun and engaging way to send each other modern love notes.

 

Montesonti, Frank. “Dean Young.” MCW640B Advanced Workshop in Poetry II, 22 June 2016, National University, La Jolla, CA. Lecture.

WordPress.com Blogging University Day Fourteen Assignment: Create a Regular Feature for Your Blog

Today marks the final assignment for me in WordPress.com’s Blogging University and the end of a fun and information-packed two weeks! Many of the helpful posts and support pages I have read over the past two weeks were not published when I initially thought I’d start a blog in 2011. Maybe it was a good thing that I waited to invest myself in this commitment. There is so much more available to help the newbie blogger.

Just like with goals, creating a regular feature ensures that I will continue with a little more certainty, a little more oomph, if that makes any sense. I have been talking with many of my coworkers lately and any time they mention attaining their goals, they have all heard and can attest to similar sentiments. The person who writes their goals down is more likely to achieve them. The person who reviews and revises their goals on an annual, semi-annual, monthly, weekly, even daily basis is most likely to surpass them. Daily and weekly reviews seem over-the-top to me, but I have reviewed my own goals bi-monthly and I find myself revising them constantly as I achieve them. It’s exciting to see where you have come from and how much more you can and will do!

I will be back in class in the next few weeks for my final two capstone courses in my Master of Fine Arts program. In light of an impending busy schedule full of thesis revision, I would like to limit myself to one weekly post on my blog for now. I don’t want to commit to any particular feature at this point, although I am still learning and this final assignment taught me about “Category Pages”. I think now, rather than publish my poems as pages, I will publish them as regular posts and categorize them by poetic form. We’ll see. There is so much more to learn and write about and I am just getting started!

Cheers,

Bryan.

WordPress.com Blogging University Day Thirteen Assignment: Add a Blog Icon

Good afternoon (or morning or evening)! The first blog icon I added was a simple deathstar-by-twombieDeath Star icon from STAR WARS. I didn’t quite understand the blog icon’s purpose and looking at this assignment, I believe the intent is something of a personal branding. For now I think I’ll use a blog icon I created in a University of North Florida class called ENC 3250 Professional Communications – Business. It is an amalgam of the Greek letters for Alpha and Omega.alpha-omega

From my white paper during the sixth week of class:

“The Greek symbols Alpha and Omega are representative of the Pitchford Brand. They are simple. They are easy to draw and easy to remember. They are also drawn together to create a unique symbol. Alpha and Omega allude to deep-seated historical memories of The Bible when Jesus Christ proclaimed, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” I want people to subconsciously tie my brand with Biblical values.”

The assignment talks about PicMonkey, “which lots of you have already tried for custom headers.” I did not use PicMonkey for my header (yet) and I already designed my blog icon with simple editing tools in Microsoft PowerPoint and Picture Viewer. I may alter this icon in the future, but I don’t want to change it up regularly and end up with severe brand confusion.

Cheers,

Bryan

WordPress.com Blogging University Day Twelve Assignment: Commenting, again!

I’m not sure where to begin with this assignment. I am excited to begin engaging with other bloggers and blog commentators. I have read other bloggers’ comments, but there haven’t been any to this point that I have been compelled to respond to. I am only following 16 blogs right now. I plan to follow more and engage more with like-minded folks and even people I do not agree with. I like what Blogging U has to say about engaging with people who have opposing viewpoints: “Respectfully offer a counterpoint. (And because it can’t be overstated: respectfully!)” I can’t imagine getting into an argument in a discussion thread.

The e-mail for today’s assignment popped in as I was writing this and it presents a slightly different take than the Blogging U site. The e-mail makes the assumption that I used one of the canned writing prompts through WordPress. I am to then read six of the responses on that prompt thread and comment on at least two. Perhaps I will write another post using one of those prompts. Today’s Daily Post one-word prompt is “infinite”. The first thing that comes to mind is a lame old joke about how to keep a weak-minded fool busy (flip card over). I think the original joke was a blonde joke, but I prefer “weak-minded fool” from STAR WARS. Jabba the Hutt was full of quips.

Maybe I’ll write something real about “infinite”. Probably a poem. I’ve only published two of my poems to this site so far and I am still looking to find the best method to present poems with all of their formatting quirks. I found a post here called Four Features to Publish Your Poems, but I haven’t tried the four methods just yet. Anyone have any best practices out there for publishing poems to WordPress? I am also thinking about changing how I publish them as pages or posts. I like how Jordan Reynolds presents poetic forms under one drop-down menu heading. Any other thoughts on that?

Cheers,

Bryan

WordPress.com Blogging University Day Eleven Assignment: Use a Writing Prompt

Do I title this “… Day 11 Assignment:…” or do I break the convention of only spelling out numbers ten and under to title it “Day Eleven Assignment:…”? I’ll keep to spelling it out through Day Fourteen.

WRITING PROMPTS! I KNOW THIS! I have countless (only because I haven’t physically counted them) books of poetry and writing prompts! I also subscribe to Poets & Writers “The Time is Now” poetry, fiction, and nonfiction writing prompts! Writing prompts are everywhere in the unfortunate event you find yourself pinned down by writer’s block or just can’t find the inspiration. Sometimes I use writing prompts even when I am full of inspiration. I might see a prompt for poetry, fiction, or even non-fiction that is particularly striking and I am compelled to use it.

This picture below is for Rattle’s monthly ekphrastic poetry challenge. This photograph is for the January 2017 challenge running from January 1st-31st. You can find a more scholarly definition of ekphrasis on The Poetry Foundation’s Glossary of Poetic Terms or The Academy of American Poets’ Library. In short, an ekphrastic poem is a poem directly inspired by a visual work of art – a painting, photograph, sculpture, etc.

ec17jan

Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge

Experience

Inspired by Harry Wilson’s image “Ileen’s Dance of the Old Year #1, San Francisco, 1984

by Bryan Pitchford

 

Tomorrow is not promised today, still, I wait

to claim the future as my own.

 

I am the god of yesterday.

I am the Old Year,

though not so old

as Father Time.

 

I am the last days. The lost days

and with each passing day I grow,

a record of history.

 

Let me not serve as a reminder of what is lost,

but of knowledge gained.

 

I hope you find some inspiration today whether you are compelled to seek out a writing prompt or are working on a piece you haven’t been able to finish. Today is the day for you to complete it!

Cheers,

Bryan

WordPress.com Blogging University Day Ten Assignment: Build a Blogroll

“Blogroll” makes me hungry for eggrolls. Eggrolls or lumpia. Or canoli.

I’m sure I started out ahead of the game. I wanted to learn more about the features here so I started Blogging U when I decided to get more serious about my blog. From day one I was visiting other blogs and taking note of features I liked about theirs. One of the first things I wanted to do was create a “Blogs I Follow” widget to help out fellow bloggers and feature blogs I believe in.

Since the “Blogs I Follow” widget will only list up to 50 blogs, I may eventually transfer those links to a “Links & Resources” page. Aside from linking to other blogs, there are a select few whose goals and missions I truly believe in and I would like to highlight.

For now I would like to display the widgets as a sidebar rather than a footer, but I am still exploring how to accomplish that. I think the theme I currently use only has the footer option and that may be my problem.

For Day Nine’s assignment I ended up changing my original plan and linking to a different conversation about inventing modern poetic forms. We are talking about creating Blogrolls today so I want to highlight one of the best resources for poets, not only in WordPress, but across several social media platforms. Even if you are not an aspiring poet, I urge you to check out Trish Hopkinson’s blog.

Cheers,

Bryan

WordPress.com Blogging University Day Nine Assignment: Get Inspired By the Neighbors

I was going to start this post by suggesting that I am only nine days into blogging and I haven’t, to-this-point, found a post that I wanted to continue at length. Then Ninefold Evolution published a poetry challenge today concerning his “ninefold” poetic form and I wanted to continue the conversation about invented forms.

I find the concept of inventing modern poetic forms intriguing. I like traditional and contemporary poetry and I have the biggest affinity toward free-verse. However, there are some contemporary forms that appeal to me over the traditional sonnets and villanelles. I challenge you to investigate the “zip ode” and the “golden shovel”. They are two of the coolest modern poetic forms.

Ninefold described his style:

It is defined by having three stanzas each with three lines and nine syllables. The first stanza must represent the aspect of body; it can be visceral and evoke the five senses. The second stanza must represent the aspect of mind; it can be about thoughts and perceptions. The final stanza must represent the aspect of spirit; it should evoke emotion or some concept of the supernatural realm.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you invented your own poetic form? Have you found any challenging and/or satisfying forms? Did you look up the golden shovel or the zip ode?

Cheers,

Bryan

WordPress.com Blogging University Day Eight Assignment: Say Hello to Your WordPress.com Neighbors

I’ve already started following a few select blogs. I have visited or tried to visit the pages of every person who has commented on my blog, but not all of you have WordPress blogs and not all of you have “Follow” buttons. I have approved all of the comments that fellow bloggers have made so far. I hope it doesn’t come to the point when I have to reject a comment. I am enjoying this so far. I love reading, I love writing, and blogging in the 21st century is perfect for me. I’m almost sorry I didn’t get into it sooner.

Blogging U suggests to avoid simple comments like “Great post!” or “Thanks!” and I agree. I hate to say that I know where they are coming from. Even with all of the rules in place, I have received similar “feedback” from classmates in online discussion boards.

I like this suggestion: “Be concise. If your comment is more than two paragraphs, write a post of your own and let the blogger know they inspired it.” We all appreciate comments, but they are supposed to be just that, comments. If the comment turns into a story, hey, use the story as your own post, expand on it even, and pingback the original blogger.

I’ve been thinking about my own posts, which so far have been mostly getting through Blogging U. When I start writing original material and sharing my opinions, I think I’ll want to keep them to 500 words or less. I look forward to reading and commenting on more blogs!

Cheers,

Bryan