The Time is Now

Poets-writeters-logo

Have you ever been afflicted with the dreaded writer’s block? Sometimes it may feel like the muse has taken an extended vacation or left you for good for another writer with no explanation or farewell note. Don’t worry, your muse always returns! Until then, the best thing to do in these tumultuous times is turn to writing prompts. One of the most diverse and compelling sets of prompts I have found is published by Poets & Writers.

The Time is Now is a WEEKLY(!!!) feature on the Poets & Writers website. Using their filter, you can filter the prompts by poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. You can also set the parameters to display 100 entries per page giving you more to sort through and fewer internet pages to turn. Maybe the Poets & Writers staff have added to the archive recently, I remember only being able to search back through one year of prompts. I learned something new this morning and you can now go all the way back to the beginning! P&W published their first prompts on January 3, 2011! At 52 prompts per year, that’s roughly 339 poetry prompts to catch up on! And if you’re interested in fiction and creative nonfiction, that’s about 1,017 prompts!

I love what P&W has to say from an earlier version of The Time is Now site:

The most important and underrated factor in a writer’s success is discipline. Talent and luck always help, but having a consistent writing practice is often the difference between aspiring writers and published writers.

The advice we hear from agents, editors, and authors alike is always the same: Focus on the writing. However, finding the time and inspiration to write is not always easy. That’s where creative writing prompts and exercises can help. Writing prompts provide writers with a starting place, an entry point into their writing practice. Sometimes creative writing prompts and exercises result in a workable draft of a story or poem. Other times, they may lead to what can seem like a dead end. But having to generate ideas, being pushed in a direction where you wouldn’t normally go in your writing, and just plain putting pen to paper is often enough to provide that crucial dose of inspiration.

The Time Is Now offers a weekly writing prompt (we’ll post a poetry prompt on Tuesdays, a fiction prompt on Wednesdays, and a creative nonfiction prompt on Thursdays) to help you stay committed to your writing practice throughout the year.

Early on, P&W only titled the prompts by genre, but starting with the first prompts of 2012, P&W began naming their prompts by the general theme of the prompt. The most recent prompt from Tuesday, July 4 is “America the Beautiful”:

“Sometimes I still put my hand tenderly on my heart / somehow or other still carried away by America,” writes Alicia Ostriker in “Ghazal: America the Beautiful.” This Fourth of July, begin a poem with the title “America the Beautiful” and let this phrase guide your piece, allowing your mind freedom to reflect on the things you find beautiful (or not so beautiful) about the nation. Read through some other Independence Day poetry by writers such as Carl Sandburg, Walt Whitman, Claude McKay, and Rachel Eliza Griffiths for further inspiration.

If you subscribe to The Time is Now e-mails, you also receive two other features that I have only recently starting paying attention to. Scroll down past the prompts and you will find a quick blurb entitled Best Books for Writers. Visit The Time is Now’s website and you can find the books in a menu to the right. P&W highlights classic and modern books in all genres tailored to the writer. I didn’t start paying attention to Writers Recommend until this past week. Carol Guess wrote the first post from December 16, 2008. This week’s comes from author Bao Phi:

“I recently took adult swimming lessons. I can’t swim, I can’t even tread water, but I knew I had to get over myself and try to learn. I’ve also been trying to write a little bit every single night, and it’s very much the same. That blank page is there waiting for me to jump in, to sink or swim. I end up flailing about and not knowing what I’m doing. But I trust it’s all part of the process. I trust that with enough work and practice, I will be able to do what I need to do. Some fear is necessary to get to new places.” — Bao Phi, author of Thousand Star Hotel (Coffee House Press, 2017)

They may seem unusual, but they offer great advice and it may just be the tip you need to get you going! Sometimes the featured poets and writers talk about books, art, music, writing prompts, films, or anything else that has inspired them.

Check out The Time is Now, look for other sources of prompts, or write your own, but whatever you do, keep writing!

Cheers,

Bryan

Trish Hopkinson (dot) com

footnote-cover
“Footnote”, chapbook by Trish Hopkinson

I have mentioned Trish Hopkinson’s blog, https://trishhopkinson.com/, on three previous blog posts and commented on the wealth of information she graciously shares with the blogosphere. Although her tagline is “The Selfish Poet,” she may be the most unselfish blogger I have come across. In fact, if the motto of my state’s writer’s association is “writers helping writers,” Hopkinson’s motto could easily be “poets helping poets.” The best thing about her blog is that, while she publishes information about any poetry calls for submissions, a vast majority of them are “NO FEE”. Many organizations require a submission fee, sometimes as a reading fee, to pay the contest judges and fund the prize money. However, as you can see from Hopkinson’s research and gracious information sharing, there are also an incredible amount of free contests.

Hopkinson began her blog in September 2012 in a post similar to my own original post, just testing the waters, seeing if the blogging world was real or if we were stepping into the Matrix, and if our work really would be readily available to anyone stumbling on our blog. In the fall of 2014, Hopkinson committed to publishing on a near-daily basis and has been unstoppable since!

I won’t go on and on about her or her blog, rather I’ll let you explore her blog on your own. Her poetry exploits are many, though. She has published dozens of poems in the contests she shares with others, she has won several contests earning prestigious awards, she co-founded a non-profit poetry group in her home state, and regularly publishes information and resources for poets and those interested in poetry.

In addition to Hopkinson’s numerous published individual poems, she has published two chapbooks and has a third releasing in July 2017. She published “Emissions” in 2012 and digitally published it on Issuu in 2014. Likewise, Hopkinson published “Pieced into Treetops” in 2013 and digitally published it to Issuu in 2014. Lithic Press recently honored Hopkinson by publishing a chapbook she has titled “Footnote” which releases later this month. “Footnote” is a collection of response poems to some of Hopkinson’s favorite artists. This is a form known as ekphrasis and it has a long tradition. One of the earliest examples is John Keats’ poem, “Ode on a Gracian Urn.” I’m excited to check out “Footnote” as soon as I can get my hands on a copy!

As always poets, keep writing!

Cheers,

Bryan

Poetic Asides

Robert Lee Brewer, former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere publishes a blog for Writer’s Digest called Poetic Asides. I’ve been following his blog for a few months now and he puts out an impressive amount of relevant information on poetry today. Additionally, he interviews established as well as up-and-coming poets, publishes writing prompts, provides advice and guidance for the modern poet, and more.

Quick bios at the end of every post read: “Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.”

Brewer published his first post for Poetic Asides on June 26, 2007 and quickly found his niche with followers. One of the features he has run nearly since the beginning is his “Wednesday Poetry Prompts” first published on May 7, 2008. This is one of the features on Brewer’s site that keeps me coming back on a near daily basis. Brewer published the most recent, the 398th prompt, on June 21st. The prompts are sometimes brief explanations, sometimes a single word, sometimes a few short paragraphs. He follows the prompt with his own humble attempts and encourages fellow poets and bloggers to post their own attempts in the comments section.

Brewer regularly publishes a feature called “Poetic Forms” where he discusses everything from traditional forms to forms invented by poets today. The most recent of these is from June 19th when he covered the Huitain, a French form. Brewer discusses the forms history, its rules, and again follows with his own attempt.

Another feature Brewer publishes regularly is Poetic Terms. The last time Brewer published anything on Poetic Terms is back in March when he posted “37 Common Poetry Terms”. In these posts, Brewer defines terms common to poetry. You may find them in any poetry dictionary or they may be too obscure even for those.

Combing through 71 pages of Brewer’s posts I found one mention of a workshop post. This was completely different from the workshops Writer’s Digest hosts for fees. In Poetry Workshop: 014, Brewer critiqued Khara E. House’s poem “Our Daily Bread”. In true workshop fashion, Brewer reviewed elements of the poem in detail, provided some notes, and closed with some suggestions to improve the poem. I miss the workshop format from my MFA program and I would love to start something up in my local area or online. Workshop critiques such as Brewers are always intended as suggestions the individual poet can accept or decline.

In April 2010, Brewer was voted in as Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere! The now-defunct site BloggingPoet.com held the contest with several poetry bloggers in the running. Followers of the blogs were meant to visit the site and vote on their candidate. I haven’t found much information on the honorary position written since Brewer was selected. I love the title and I think it would be cool if blogosphere poets collectively decided to honor the position again.

Brewer’s most recent series is something he is calling “Why I Write Poetry”. He admits that this sentiment is not new to his writing, but he wants to use this as a sort of poet interview. On June 12th he published his own revised essay with a call-to-action for poets to e-mail their essays. He published the first guest essay on June 20th from poet Nurit Israeli. I hope to be featured in one of Brewer’s posts soon. I am still writing my own essay, which I hope to finish this week.

Keep writing!

Cheers,

Bryan

So You Want My Job: Poet

I’m figuratively kicking myself for not publishing this post sooner. I claim über busyness finalizing poems for my MFA Thesis and revising the project as a whole. But really I have no excuse. I want to publish one post per week and it has been two weeks since my last post.

To clarify the title of this post, I do not currently work as a poet. I would love to, but I have not pursued the prestigious, though unsung career of a poet. It took me a long time to even admit I am a poet. It took me longer still to admit in public I am a poet. Yes, I am a poet. It was hard to get the words out of my mouth for so long. This post is not about me.

This post is about some recent articles I read about brave folks who have taken that leap. First, the poet Jordan Chaney. Jordan was recently on the website Art of Manliness in 2012. The article I discovered was one of my most recent rabbit-holing spelunking excursions.

Art of Manliness is operated by a husband and wife duo. It is not a sexist site, nor is it strictly for men. There are plenty of articles presented that appeal to women. They describe their site as follows:

AoM is a blog about growing up well, aimed at men and their unique challenges and interests. We explore all things manly — from the serious and philosophical to the practical and fun. We seek to uncover how to live with grandpa’s swagger, virtue, and know-how in the present age by wedding the best of the past to the best of the present. The end goal is to create a synergy of tradition and modernity that offers men a way forward and signposts on how to live an excellent, flourishing life.

AoM runs a regular column called “So You Want My Job.” I do so much Internet rabbit-holing, I don’t remember what led me to this particular topic. I think I may have been looking at another article on Art of Manliness which led me to the “So You Want My Job” series, which led me to query “poet” in their search box. Waaaaaaaaay back on March 22, 2012, Art of Manliness published an interview for the series with poet Jordan Chaney working out of Kennewick, Washington. Mr. Chaney has a personal Facebook page as well as an author page as a career Poet. If you are interested in his life as a poet and how he survives as a poet, I encourage you to check him out.

I also recently started following another blogging poet named Katie Hale. It’s funny that I was going to post about the job of a poet because as I was putting this post together, I stumbled across Katie’s blog. On March 12th, 2017, she published a post entitled: . Recently Katie attended StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, where she served as the festival’s in-house blogger. Sounds like an awesome responsibility! There, she attended an event called “Making a Living as a Poet” sponsored by the Society of Authors. Ken Cockburn chaired the event with poets Sarah Hesketh and Harry Giles offering advice and talking about making money from poetry. They offer a different take on the Poet as a lifestyle and not just because they reside “across the pond.”

I posted this partly because it is important to know what others around you involved in your craft are engaged in. You should maintain a constant dialogue with your craft. There is a larger conversation going on about poetry in the world. Every day there are new speakers, new opinions, new forms, new rules, et cetera. By “dialogue” and “conversation,” I don’t mean that you are physically talking with anyone. This conversation includes blogs, Facebook posts, Twitter, Instagram, anything to engage the world outside of yourself. Poetry is not dead, rather, there are exciting things happening in the world of poetry every day. You just have to open your eyes and look for them, open your ears and listen for them.

Keep writing!

Cheers,

Bryan