Blogging 2.1

Today I feel lethargic. Ugh. I turned in the first draft of my MFA Thesis on Tuesday and I am biting my fingernails waiting for a response from my professor. I wonder how much revision the manuscript will require before the board will accept and approve it. So today, with little to do, I am distracted my the work to come. I started a post several weeks ago and then published a separate post. Right now I have six unpublished posts I am drafting for the future.

I feel like a true blogger now. A few weeks ago I published my 25th post and received my 20th follower! The numbers are climbing. I’m reaching more and more people when these posts publish to my Twitter account, LinkedIn profile, and Facebook author page. In fact, I am up to 29 posts (30 including today’s) and 34 followers! I’m not a numbers guy and I’m not doing this for notoriety, but it is cool to look at the WordPress stats page and realize how far I’ve come. I’ve had 450 total views and 288 total visitors.

Last week I published a poem I wrote and linked it to my blog. I’ve linked my posts to other websites and WordPress blogs, but never circled around to myself. I’m starting to publish a substantial body of work and I feel great. This is therapeutic, but I am constantly reviewing my motives for publishing a blog. In the beginning I said that I would do this once I completed my MFA, but I couldn’t wait. I had a two-month break between classes and I was bored so I started exploring WordPress’s Blogging University which is an amazing and informational set of tools. I’ll need to refresh myself with some of the tools because all of the cool things you can do with a blog are perishable skills. I would love to design a blog from the ground up using more pictures and linked objects.

Reel it in, starting to ramble. This morning I was thinking how awesome it is to be a poet! I’m sure my wife isn’t happy about the mess, but I’ve got all of the most recent poetry magazines littered about the kitchen countertop. April 2017 Poetry, Spring/Summer 2017 Poet Lore, April/May 2017 Of Poets and Poetry, April 2017 Strophes, Spring-Summer 2017 American Poets, March/April 2017 The American Poetry Review, May/June 2017 Poets & Writers, May/June 2017 Writer’s Digest, and May/Summer 2017 The Writer’s Chronicle. I love to surround myself with inspiration and what better way to receive inspiration than with the freshest poetry and poetry news? I encourage you to check out these publications if you haven’t already.

Keep writing!

Cheers,

Bryan

*Of Poets and Poetry is the Florida State Poets Association bi-monthly newsletter. They are a member of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. If you reside in the United States, think about joining your state’s poetry organization.

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

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!

Cheers,

Bryan