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 Right now I have six unpublished posts I am drafting for the future.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.

My Favorite Poem

For a long time I wouldn’t have said I had a favorite poem. Earning an education in public school, I had few exposures to poetry and nothing as widely celebrated as National Poetry Month, which The Academy of American Poets created in 1996 when I was a sophomore in High School. I grew up not really knowing much poetry. Public school had us studying classic, mostly safe poets like Robert Frost and William Shakespeare, though we studied the latter more as literature than poetry. I remember liking Robert Frost and I still do, but in some ways I think you couldn’t get any more average. I wish we would have studied more diverse texts and poets like Charles Baudelaire, Charles Bernstein, Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Charles Bukowski (just to stay in the ‘B’s and list them alphabetically, of course).

In honor of National Poetry Month (#NPM2017), I want to share my favorite poem. My absolute favorite poem in the world is Stuart Dischell’s “She Put on Her Lipstick in the Dark” which is in the form of a pantoum. From The Poetry Foundation‘s glossary a pantoum is:

A Malaysian verse form adapted by French poets and occasionally imitated in English. It comprises a series of quatrains, with the second and fourth lines of each quatrain repeated as the first and third lines of the next. The second and fourth lines of the final stanza repeat the first and third lines of the first stanza. See A.E. Stallings’s “Another Lullaby for Insomniacs.”

It sounds complicated, but it isn’t. It also isn’t terribly easy to write, though I don’t find it as difficult a form as the dreaded sestina. Here is my favorite poem:

SHE PUT ON HER LIPSTICK IN THE DARK

I really did meet a blind girl in Paris once. It
was in the garden of a museum Where I saw
her touching the statues. She had brown hair
and an aquamarine scarf.

It was in the garden of the museum I told her I
was a thief disguised as a guard. She had
brown hair and an aquamarine scarf. She told
me she was a student from Grenoble.

I told her I was not a thief disguised as a guard.
We had coffee at the little commissary. She said
she had time till her train to Grenoble. We talked
about our supreme belief in art.

We had coffee at the little commissary
Then sat on a bench near the foundry. We
talked about our supreme belief in art. She
leaned her head upon my chest.

We kissed on a bench near the foundry. I
closed my eyes when no one was watching.
She leaned her head upon my chest. The
museum was closing. It was time to part.

I really did meet a blind girl in Paris once. I
never saw her again and she never saw me.
In a garden she touched the statues. She put
on her lipstick in the dark.

I close my eyes when no one is watching. She
had brown hair and an aquamarine scarf. The
museum was closing. It was time to part. I
never saw her again and she never saw me.

The Lead Faculty for the National University Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and my personal mentor, Professor Frank Montesonti, encourages MFA students to communicate with published poets. Why not? They’re human like the rest of us. They came from the same unpublished, unrecognized streets we did. And it’s so cool when they write back! I have written to five major poets and all, but one sent me a personal response. On Monday, July 11, 2016 I e-mailed Mr. Dischell expressing my love for his poem and humbly sharing with him a poem I wrote in response. “It’s Always Dark when I Put on My Lipstick” is not a pantoum and is written from the perspective of the woman. Mr. Dischell wrote me the very next day and graciously complimented my poem! It was funny because the day I wrote to him, he was a guest speaker at the American University in Paris and had been asked to read “She Put Her Lipstick on in the Dark.”

Other notable examples of the pantoum are Carolyn Kizer’s “Parent’s Pantoum,” John Ashberry’s “Pantoum,” Airea D. Matthews’ “Descent of the Composer,” Randall Mann’s “September Elegies,” Denise Duhamel’s “Lawless Pantoum,” Carolyn Kizer’s “Parent’s Pantoum,” and Marilyn Hacker’s “Iva’s Pantoum.” There are so many great examples out there, but Dischell’s is my all-time favorite.

Keep writing! (Maybe try a pantoum of your own?)

Cheers,

Bryan

“Pantoum.” Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 12 April 2017.

Dischell, Stuart. “She Put on Her Lipstick in the Dark.” National Endowment for the Arts, 2009. Web. 12 April 2017.

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.

National Poetry Month

I posted several weeks ago about #NaPoWriMo, the slick hashtag for National Poetry Writing Month, a similarly named cousin to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in November). National Poetry Month is upon us and in full swing! Countless poets are celebrating the month with challenges, contests, and prompts. Poet bloggers are blogging and sharing the good news.

2017npm-poster_0The Academy of American Poets has an amazing page this year called 30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month. True to its name, there are 30 activities listed, one for each of the 30 days in National Poetry Month. Additionally, they published lessons for teachers for all primary, middle, and High School grades. You can order this year’s National Poetry Month poster for free from the Academy’s website. You can also find an Adobe pdf version with clickable images linked to related poems. It’s not easy to explain, but trust me, check out the pdf and spend an afternoon clicking through the poems for each picture, it’s a blast!

One of the coolest ideas this year is #10: “Ask your governor or mayor for a proclamation in support of National Poetry Month.” I live in a suburb of Jacksonville so I e-mailed and sent letters to both the mayor of my town as well as Mayor Lenny Curry of Jacksonville. So far, Mayor Curry e-mailed me back with a link to a page on his website for submitting proclamation requests. The process was simple and I expect to hear Mayor Curry’s final determination. I haven’t contacted Governor Rick Scott of Florida, yet, but that is my next step.

When I wrote to Mayor Nix and Mayor Curry, I also asked them about appointing a Poet Laureate for their respective town and city. Mayor Curry directed my question to the director of the Jacksonville Public Library. I am excited to hear from Mrs. Barbara Gubbin and I am hopeful that Mayor Nix will reply in an equally enthusiastic manner. Florida has an appointed Peter Meinke (personal website linked) as the most recent Poet Laureate, a position I hope to attain some day!

This year I am following two prompt generators for National Poetry Month. Robert Lee Brewer, the former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, publishes Poetic Asides, a regular blog on the Writer’s Digest website. Brewer publishes a poetry prompt every day for the 30 days of April and as an added bonus, he includes a “Two-for-Tuesday”! The great thing about this challenge is you can publish your response poems directly to the thread under the post.

The second set of prompts I follow is WordXWord’s Thirty Thirty Poetry Challenge. You cannot publish your poems directly to this website. To submit your responses to the challenges, Thirty Thirty set up a Facebook page at 30/30 Poetry. Although it is a closed group, it is not difficult to request membership.

I hope I have inspired you to write today!

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

Because We Come From Everything: Poetry & Migration

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Academy of American Poets Chancellor @professorea

More than one year ago, in November 2015, more than 20 nonprofit poetry groups came together for a singular purpose. Now 26 member organizations strong, the Poetry Coalition, seeks to “promote the value poets bring to our culture and the important contribution poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds.”As a poet, this is a mission near and dear to my heart. It lines up 100% with any proposal initiated by the U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant to the Library of Congress.

This month, the Poetry Coalition is launching its first initiative, Because We Come From Everything: Poetry & Migration.Check out either of the two links for more information on the Poetry Coalition, its member organizations, and the migration-themed events they are hosting this month. Both links will take you to pages on the Academy of American Poets’s website. The Coalition encourages participation in any of the programs member organizations are holding throughout the month. Additionally, they invite like-minded organizations to host their own events. The Coalition has one simple request, and that is that you use the hashtag #WeComeFromEverything to share your efforts across social media platforms for anything related to this project. Get creative, get out there, and get involved!

Keep Writing!

Cheers,

Bryan

NaPoWriMo

national-poetry-month-logo

As well as being National Poetry Month, April is also celebrated by some brave individuals as NaPoWriMo. NaPoWriMo? National Poetry Writing Month! Similar to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), just don’t get them confused! If you want to know more about NaPoWriMo specifically, check out their FAQ.

The Academy of American Poets inaugurated National Poetry Month in 1996 and have sponsored it ever since. Throughout the month of April, you can find all kinds of material and resources to celebrate National Poetry Month. The Academy has a page dedicated to the annual celebration along with links to other pages, projects, and events. Scholastic’s website has great resources for teachers, students, and any other poetry lover. Read Write Think also offers several lesson plans for grades K-12 on their website. Last year, Poetry Foundation made their April issue of Poetry magazine available as a pdf download.

I haven’t found much material for 2017 yet, but then it is still March. Through a quick search, I found several references to National Poetry Month and NaPoWriMo from 2016. Everything posted for 2016 is still valid, but I hope they begin posting information for 2017 soon. I have that poetic itch and it can only be cured with more cowbell. No, that’s not right. I am excited to see what comes of National Poetry Month and NaPoWriMo this year!

I am debating whether I am going to attempt to write one poem every day in April this year. I haven’t done it in the past because I just learned about it. I am still heavily engaged in finishing my Master’s Thesis for my MFA. I thought I would have enough poems for the thesis, but I am writing more to achieve the requirements. Actually, NaPoWriMo may provide the inspiration I need to foster my brilliance. ;-l

I should point out you can also find opinions against National Poetry Month because, of course, there are radicals on both sides of every fence.

With only 27 days remaining until National Poetry Month, keep writing!

Cheers,

Bryan

TED Talks Poetry

ted

Who is TED? Why is his name in ALL CAPS? Why should I care what he has to say about Poetry? If you aren’t already familiar with TED Talks, it is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. From their website at http://www.ted.com/:

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.

I have heard of TED Talks and I was introduced to TEDx this past week. If you were already familiar with TED, maybe you thought like me, “what would TED have to do with Poetry?” This morning I decided to look up Poetry on TED and I was surprised by the results.

One of the 11 MUST-SEE TED Talks is about poetry. Poet Sarah Kay gave a talk around 18 minutes long entitled “If I Should Have a Daughter…” Kay is a spoken word poet, a performance poet and her presentation was eloquent. She is doing great things to further poetry in the modern world and ensure its accessibility for everyone. I’m attaching a link to her website here.

Former Poet Laureate Consultant to the Library of Congress, Billy Collins, has a TED Talk entitled “Everyday Moments, Caught in Time.” Collins’s talk is slightly shorter at around 15 minutes wherein he introduces five of his poems in animated form. He concludes by reading a sixth poem. I was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm and support from the large audience. Two or three times, Collins references the period he served as United States Poet Laureate, he laughs as he clearly enjoyed that time in his life and the audience laughs along with him. It’s a refreshing exchange between a contemporary poet and a demographically diverse audience. Collins maintains his own website here.

According to one of their tags, TED has 48 talks on Poetry! Additionally, they have around seven articles on Poetry! I feel like I’m using exclamation points excessively, but I get excited when I talk about Poetry and when I find new Poetry resources! This afternoon I typed “poetry” in TED’s search bar which returned 323 results! I hope you take a minute to watch some of the TED talks on poetry. Some of them are poets reading their material whiles others are poets talking about the craft and furthering the art form.

And as always, keep writing!

Cheers,

Bryan

Contests and Submissions

One of the promises I made to myself as I am in the final stretches of attaining a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is that I will submit my poems to contests and literary and poetry journals. These are all steps on my journey to my ultimate goal of becoming U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.

In my last post I wrote about joining organizations I feel are beneficial to furthering your appreciation, education, and quality of writing poetry. Some of the organizations I mentioned are state poetry organizations, the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, the Academy of American Poets, American Poetry Review, Association of Writers & Writing Programs, the Poetry Foundation, and the Poetry Society of America. Many of these organizations offer contests and while many of them are open to the public, there are a few only open to members. If you do some research, you can find several “free to enter” contests, while others require small submission fees. The prizes range anywhere from publication on the organization’s website to chapbook publication offers and even thousands of dollars in prize money.

I encourage you to take the next step and research some contests that appeal to you. Don’t like sonnets or villanelles or you feel that you are unable to write them? There are plenty of contests out there for contemporary, free verse poetry. There are contests for ekphrastic poetry. There are contests for haiku and lunes and landays and zip odes and spoon river poems. There are rhyming poetry contests and themed poetry contests for just about anything you can think of. Many of the contests available open and close on a rotating basis annually. The National Federation of State Poetry Societies’ submission period generally runs from January 1st through March 15th. The Florida State Poets Association submission period is open from May 1st through July 15th annually. Other contests are run weekly or monthly.

I was going to put together a comprehensive list of every contest I found in Microsoft Excel and sort by deadline, but it turns out there are websites which do just that. Trish Hopkinson’s blog, A Selfish Poet is one of the best I’ve seen. Recently she featured a site called Submishmash which lists countless contests by poetry, fiction, nonfiction, visual art, or all. It further sorts the content by deadline or “random.”

My only word of caution is to not overwhelm yourself and burden yourself by attempting to take on too many submissions. This should be fun! Make your own small list of contests you are interested in and focus on those. Expand your list if you want, but always enjoy the process and the rewards!

Cheers,

Bryan

Poetry Organizations

I am a member of the United States Armed Forces and one of my closest friends made a remark a few years ago that stuck with me. “Bryan,” he said, “Professionals join professional organizations.” He was talking about entirely different organizations, but what does that mean? Well, it might mean different things to different people and several things to several people. If you are not out there actively championing your cause, who is? As a poet or even as a person with an appreciation of poetry, there are several organizations who fight for the validity and relevancy of traditional and contemporary poetry. When you join these organizations, your membership pays for them to lobby and forward the poetic agenda. That came out sounding a little too political and I do not want to discourage you from considering membership in any of them.

I am no expert at this, so in my humble opinion, the best place to start is the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (homepage linked). Their website can point you in the direction of your state’s poetry group. Just go to the menu on the left and click on “State Links.” A vast majority of states have poetry organizations and many of them are linked on this page.

Beyond those, there is the Academy of American Poets (linked) and Poetry Foundation (also linked). These are two of my favorite organizations. Their websites are chock full of poetry information and resources. Any time I want to look up a poem, a poet, or a poetic term, these are the first two places I check.

Some of these are not so much membership-driven organizations, but organizations with magazine subscriptions. I encourage you poets to check out American Poetry Review, American Writers & Artists, Inc. (AWAI), Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP), Poets & Writers (another favorite), Poetry Society of America, Poets House, and Writer’s Digest to name just a few. And these really are just a few of the many poetry focused organizations out there. I could write individual blogs on each of these sites and more going into great detail on what they have to offer.

I am a member of the Florida Writers Association, Florida State Poets Association, National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Academy of American Poets, and American Writers & Artists, Inc.. I currently subscribe to American Poetry Review, American Poets, The Florida Writer, Poetry, Poets & Writers, and Writer’s Digest.

If you have the time, also look into the National Endowment for the Arts. They do incredible things for all of the arts!

Keep writing!

Cheers,

Bryan