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?



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.


Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge


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!



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.



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?



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!



WordPress.com Blogging University Day Seven Assignment: Headers and Backgrounds

The title of this lesson mentioned backgrounds, but the lesson devoted a majority of the space to describing header images. I may eventually change my header, but I like the picture I chose when I set up my blog. I’ve said enough about the image in other places so I won’t drag on here. The picture is of several Lego modular buildings I own and it’s one of my favorite pictures.

If I choose a background image, I am weary of selecting one that is too dark or too light. I think a solid color or a pattern may be the best option. I do not want the image to be too distracting or to confuse the reader’s eye between the header and background. For now I’ll leave it as the default beige which seems to blend pleasantly with the cream walls in the header image.

In other news, today marks one full week since I recommitted myself to writing this blog. I’ve had a headache all afternoon and I am exhausted from staying up to watch the BBC’s Sherlock Series 4, Episode 1. I had to go into work in the wee hours so I did this to myself. Oh well. I didn’t mean to drift too far off-topic, but there it is.



WordPress.com Blogging University Day Six Assignment: Publish an “About” Page and Add a Widget

I saw this assignment when I was first reviewing Blogging U and I’ve been writing, rewriting, and revising what I want to say in my “About” page. Do I go with a short, medium, or long introduction? How much do I want to disclose about myself? Do I want to keep with only the most pertinent facts about me as a poet to remain credible as a blogger of poetry? (Blog, blogger, and blogging are such unpoetic words).

I hope you don’t read my “About” page as “I come from blah blah,” and “I like or don’t like dogs”. I don’t want to give you a shopping list. I want to give you the mortar that holds my story bricks together, not just a shopping list.

I would rather not distill my About page down to one or two sentences for a text widget. I try to keep in mind, “if a total stranger found my blog and only remembered one thing about it, what would I want that to be?” I’d want that to be that I am a poet and to remember my name. Standby for my About page.


WordPress.com Blogging University Day Five Assignment: Love Your Theme

To be honest, I liked the first theme I was using called “Typo”. I like this one as well. It’s called “Libre” and it’s on the minimal side. I wouldn’t say that I have LOVED either theme and I don’t like the fact that when I change themes I have to rename and reorder the widgets. It’s not a chore right now since I am just starting out, but I am not looking forward to changing themes in the future. And what happens when WordPress retires or discontinues a theme?

One thing I am still trying to figure out is how to create a side menu rather than strictly header and footer menus. I have explored a few themes and I chose this current theme because it seemed as though I could create a side menu. The list of themes suggested Libre has two templates, but I have not figured out how to implement the second template, unless I can only do so under the Premium plan. I have considered upgrading from personal to premium. I’m not sure if that is necessary for these issues. It is something I would like to do eventually for other reasons.

I am also trying to figure out how to rename some of the default names like on the “reply” buttons. Some minor things that I know are possible, I’ve just got to read more.

I wonder if I am going to learn some of these things in the rest of Blogging U. I have been looking through the help menus and other helpful posts, but I haven’t come across all of the answers I seek so far. I am open to any suggestions any appreciative of the help!



WordPress.com Blogging University Day Four Assignment: Identify Your Audience

meI would like to reach as wide an audience as possible. Ideally, I would like to reach fellow amateur poets, notable published poets, poetry critics, publishing houses, literary agents, and anyone else in the poetry publishing industry.

For the second part of today’s assignment, I’m not exactly sure which new element to include. I’ve already used pictures in the few blogs I’ve posted. When I use content like that, I try to remain aware of the source to properly cite them unless the content is part of the public domain. I have also posted poems since poetry is my primary focus.

I think I’ll embed content from other social media sites I use. I’ve created an author page on Facebook as an offshoot of my personal page. It’s something to get me going in the poetry world. When I post to WordPress, the posts are instantly shared with my Facebook author page. My posts are also shared with my Twitter account. I’m not sure if they’re shared with my LinkedIn or Pinterest accounts yet. That may be for the future. Until then I’ll embed my Pinterest profile. I have exactly twenty boards with the one I created three days ago, “For the Love of Fonts”. The boards I pin to the most are “STAR WARS!”, “LEGO!”, and “Creative Writing”.

To maintain a consistent presence across all of the social media platforms I use, I keep my profile picture the same throughout. It’s not an ancient picture, but it’s not exactly recent either. I’m not trying to sell myself on a dating website with it so I’m not concerned about that. It’s my favorite picture from my last deployment to Qatar and I’m wearing my favorite color – red. I think it shows an air of professionalism as well as conveys a lighter side of me.



WordPress.com Blogging University Day Three Assignment: Learn to Use the WordPress.com Reader

It’s only day three and at times I already feel as if the writers of these Bogging U posts, although immensely helpful, tend to take a lecturing tone with me. I know it is not meant this way, but even the title, “Learn to Use the WordPress.com Reader”… I may not be an IT guy, but I am a point-and-click expert.

I am intimately familiar with the term ‘rabbit-holing’, a term I only learned about three years ago and which I find describes my habits precisely when I am bored on the ever-lovable Internet.

I am also terribly prone to digressing. 😦

I have followed the directions for today and followed five new tags in the reader (a process I was previously unaware of) and followed five new blogs. Blogging U is incredibly helpful and I wasn’t cutting it down with my criticism, just having a laugh.

The five blogs I am now following are: cristasblogwordpresscom, Frank Montesonti, Trish Hopkinson, Tribrach: for those who love (or would like to love) poetry, and Let Me Stay Among The Stars.

I am now following the tags: MFA, Poetry, Poetry Contest, Poetry In Motion, and Poutry Out Loud.