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

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

The Poem as Comic Strip

Poetry Foundation

In mid-May, while researching articles and poems about Ted Kooser, the 13th U.S. Poet Laureate, I came across some beautiful and unique pieces on The Poetry Foundation’s website.

I will not copy the jpgs or pdfs directly to this site for copyright reasons. Rather, I’ll post a few links to the content on The Foundation’s website. This link takes you to the original six articles which began with “The Poem as Comic Strip” and ran for a series of six articles each with different authors, artists, and poets. Fred Sasaki published a seventh piece entitled, “Poem as Comic Strip Redux”, which followed three years after The Foundation published the sixth article.

The editors of The Poetry Foundation commissioned six artists to comb through their archives of poems in the public domain and create comic strips based on those pieces. If you haven’t visited the archives, I encourage you to do so. I have spent hours jumping from poem to poem, poet to poet in the website. I’m betting you’ll find more than you bargained for and forget to come up for air! Online poetry archives are the next best thing to brick-and-mortar bookstores and I find poetry rabbit-holing is the most rewarding!

The six artists chose the following poems, in order of their appearance: Diane Wakoski’s “Belly Dancer”, Emily Dickinson’s “It was not Death, for I Stood Up”, Russell Edson’s “Of Memory and Distance”, Kenneth Patchen’s “The Snow is Deep on the Ground”, Ted Kooser’s “The Giant Slide”, and A.E. Stallings’ “Recitative”. You can find text versions of each poem in The Foundation’s archive through a quick search to go along with the picture and review the poet’s original vision.

These poems as comic strips remind me of Billy Collins’ animated poetry which you can find on YouTube. This link will take you to a playlist of nine videos including “Walking Across the Atlantic”, “The Best Cigarette”, and “The Dead”, three of my favorite Collins poems and accompanying videos!

I’m not an artist, but this would make a great exercise for any poem that strikes you. I can also see, rather than a writing prompt, a drawing prompt come out of this.

As always keep writing (and drawing)!

Cheers,

Bryan