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

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

Poet Brian Bilston

 

I had no idea this week what I was going to write about. I decided to focus on a unique poet I found recently. Unless I write it down, I never remember how I discover particular poems or poets. It may have been that someone posted or shared on Facebook or reTweeted on the Twitters. I saw the poet’s name attached to an old-timey picture of a pipe-smoking gentleman and I thought nothing of it. Then I saw another post and that, too, passed. Later I tried to remember the name as best I could so I could look him up. I wanted to find him again because of a visual poem I remembered.

One of Bilston’s most recent poems, and the one that I saw, is “Cell”:

 

Bilston, Brian - Cell

I’m not here to critique the individual poems so I will let you read for yourself and make your own judgments. I am impressed how Bilston uses everything at his disposal in fresh ways. To use Microsoft Excel and play with the language in the cells is fun!

Here is another poem in which Bilston plays with Venn diagrams. A Venn diagram, named after John Venn (1834–1923), an English logician is “a diagram representing mathematical or logical sets pictorially as circles or closed curves within an enclosing rectangle (the universal set), common elements of the sets being represented by the areas of overlap among the circles (Google)”.

Bilston, Brian - At the Intersection

Finally, here is a third poem in which Bilston used of the layout on the page to play with words making them look like falling rain. E. E. Cummings used similar techniques with typography. Check out “(IM)C-A-T(MO)” and “l(a” if you are interested. Here is Bilston’s “A Leaky Weekend”:

Bilston, Brian - A Leaky Weekend

I haven’t found much biographical information on Bilston, but that is part of his allure. Actually, Bilston may not even be a male poet, she may be a poetess! Bilston has a WordPress site and this is directly from his “About” page:

“Frequently described as the “Poet Laureate of Twitter”, Brian Bilston is a poet clouded in the pipe smoke of mystery. Very little is known about him other than the fragments of information revealed on social media: his penchant for tank tops, his enjoyment of Vimto, his dislike of Jeremy Clarkson.

In 2014 he became the first person to retain the title of Pipe Smoker of the Year [Poetry section] and, over the years, he has won numerous awards for cycling proficiency, first aid, and general tidiness. He won the 2015 Great British Write Off poetry prize for a poem disguised in a Venn diagram.

His first collection of poetry You Caught the Last Bus Home will be published later this year with Unbound. You can find a short film about it, how to support it, and get your name in the back of it, here:

https://unbound.co.uk/books/brian-bilston

Writing about his own verse, he says:

I write about Waitrose.
And the pitta of Waitrose.
The poetry is in the pitta.

You can find Brian most days on Twitter (@brian_bilston) and also on Facebook (www.facebook.com/BrianBilston/).

I don’t know where all of these titles came from. Robert Lee Brewer was ceremonially dubbed the Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere. Now we have Brian Bilston dubbed the Poet Laureate of Twitter. I checked his social media sites to hunt for an origin story. I found these facts:

  1. Bilston has been blogging since at least November 2013 on WordPress!
  2. He has been on Twitter since August 2013. His short bio on Twitter simply reads: “Ceci n’est pas un poème,” which translates to “this is not a poem.”
  3. The oldest Facebook post I can find from him is November 22, 2014.

I am looking forward to purchasing his book You Caught the Last Bus Home soon!

Have you come across any poets you would like to share?

Cheers,

Bryan

American Life in Poetry

KooserFellow Poets! Last week I published a post about Juan Felipe Herrera, the current Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. Mr. Herrera is currently in his second term as Poet Laureate. I wanted to write about him because I read an interview The Washington Post published in March 2017 just prior to National Poetry Month.

This week, I am inspired to write about Ted Kooser and American Life in Poetry. Mr. Kooser served two terms as the prestigious U.S. Poet Laureate when he was appointed the 13th Poet Laureate from 2004-2006. It was Kooser’s own National Poetry Project, American Life in Poetry, which first drew my attention to him. According to the website,

“American Life in Poetry is a free weekly column for newspapers and online publications featuring a poem by a contemporary American poet and a brief introduction to the poem by Ted Kooser.”

Like any great project, Kooser presented a mission and a vision for ALP which is simply to promote poetry. I subscribed to ALP in May 2013 when they were in their ninth year and they are still going strong. On Monday, May 15th, they published their 634th column!

Some background on Ted Kooser. He’s got his own poet website: The Official Website of Poet: Ted Kooser. Here you can read his personal biography detailing his collected works, listen to him reading and talking about his poems, read some press reviews, and more. Mr. Kooser currently features only six poems on his site and lists the works they are published in as well as linking them to where you can purchase those works. Mr. Kooser also has an extensive couple of pages on The Poetry Foundation’s website. The Foundation’s biography is even more extensive than on Kooser’s site. Additionally, the Foundation has 26 of Kooser’s poems, 1 article, and 17 Audio & Podcast files. The Academy of American Poets has a sizable biography page for Kooser as well as four poems. Fortunately, they are four different poems than on the Poetry Foundation. Since he served as a U.S. Poet Laureate, you can also find loads of information on the Library of Congress’ pages. There is a brief summary of Kooser’s tenure as Poet Laureate, a page listing all Poet Laureate Projects including Kooser’s American Life in Poetry, and several articles and blog posts about Kooser and his work.

On The Poetry Foundation’s biography, they quote critic Dana Gioia who described Kooser as a “popular poet”—not one who sells millions of books, but

“popular in that unlike most of his peers he writes naturally for a nonliterary public. His style is accomplished but extremely simple—his diction drawn from common speech, his syntax conversational.”

Poetically, Kooser reminds me of Philip Levine and Billy Collins. Incidentally, they both served as Poets Laureate, Levine from 2011-2012 and Collins from 2001-2003. Perhaps I will write more about them later.

One of the things I like best about Mr. Kooser is that he is approachable and helpful as a poet. On August 8, 2016 I wrote to Mr. Kooser for advice on breaking into the poetry world. I have my own ideas and I have written about them on this blog. Mr. Kooser graciously replied that same morning. He suggested to focus on the task at hand, focus on the poem you are writing at the moment. Submit to quality literary journals and continue to submit. Get noticed and keep moving forward, keep progressing. I like writing to poets I admire and sending them compliments on my favorite poems of theirs. It is always a pleasant surprise when they write back!

If you care to check them out, three of my favorite Kooser poems are “Abandoned Farmhouse,” “Look for Me,” and “So This is Nebraska.” You can find all three on The Poetry Foundation’s website.

Keep writing!

Cheers,

Bryan

It’s Always Dark When I Put on My Lipstick

It’s Always Dark When I Put on My Lipstick

      For love of Stuart Dischell’s “She Put on Her Lipstick in the Dark”

Oui, I met a man in Paris once,
not the only man I’ve ever met
in Paris. It was in a museum
in a garden. I was looking

at the statues; getting a feel
for them with my fingers. Men
want to walk me to the café,
to the entrainer, and to the boutique.

They want me with coffee
and they want to help me
to cross several rues.
He sidled up to me, asking

which statue I favoured.
He said he would steal it for me;
just say the word. I told him
he needed a new line. I felt his

metal security guard badge
and his nightstick. I kissed him
anyway and leaned my head
on his warm chest. Paris was

cold and I wore my aquamarine
scarf. We sipped lovely cups
of coffee near loud machines.
I couldn’t see and I couldn’t

hear. I nearly missed my train,
Paris to Grenoble, seven hours
and 45 minutes. I never saw him
but I remember his face.