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Poetry Month is almost over and I have been writing away, trying to catch up on the Poem-A-Day challenge. I wanted to point out the upcoming Poem in Your Pocket Day which is April 30th, but now I am hooked on this story:

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6652066.html?industryid=47144

Lulu, the print-on-demand self-publishing company that you may be familiar with already, has purchased the domain http://www.poetry.com and created a whole new site built around the old name. It looks to me like a decent resource, complete with free contests that users vote on (and actually award $$), but also a well-played marketing move to encourage amateur poets like myself to invest in a self-published collection. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; poetry has a long tradition of self-published poets. It worked for Walt Whitman, among many others. There is of course, a darker [and slightly juicy] side to this story. You  may be familiar with the original Poetry.com site which has been featured on such prestigious lists as Winning Writers’ “Contests to Avoid” and Professor Roy’s Amazingly Bad Poetry Journal. This is the site connected to the infamous National Library of Poetry, and several other aliases, which scammed innocent poets into paying for anthologies and awards that seldom materialized.The site has basically been considered a joke among literary and writing circles, though some others may have harsher words for it. It has even inspired parody contests for Bad Poetry.

Lulu legitimately paid for the domain name and are trying to change the tarnished image into their own shiny one, but now they are warding off dissatisfied customers and p.o.’d poets who

a.) want their money back

b.) want their poems back  [yes, they got some of the archived poetry along with the domain, though they swear they did not buy the business itself. That company, Watermark Media, is double-dead].

c.) want revenge

d.) All of the above

The comment board on their blog already has ppl writing in all caps what they think about Lulu and poetry.com … I think they should have thought this one through a bit better, though maybe the controversy will be good PR. Hey, it drew me there, and the prize money sure looks tempting. I would just laugh, but many people really fell for the scam and it somewhat marred the image of poetry publications in America. So, I do question how legitimate this move can make that domain name now. Obviously it is optimal for the search engines, but as any former tween celebrity can tell you, it is hard to shake a bad rep, even if you change your name, Lulu.

Since I am not finished with a poem today, I will share some other poetry resources from the Interwebs. I am counting this as the list post which was “assigned” Day 2 of the Build a Better Blog Challenge. [Obviously, I am not stressing myself to do that every day too, but I am learning some good hints and tips, just by reading the posts.] OK- in no particular order:

Shadow Poetry

This site has just about everything you could ask for to satisfy your poetic needs, including chapbook publishing. Some of the items are closed except to members, but the Reference pages [terms, poets, handbook, etc], Message boards and slightly addictive Magnet Poetry are free to use. If you are interested in having a chapbook published, check out their service. There are also a bookstore and two magazines available by subscription. They do accept submissions from non-members and you can submit directly through the site.

Winning Writers

This site is the home of the Poetry Contest Insider, which is a thorough database-for-a-fee. They also offer a good list of Free Poetry Contests when you sign up for their e-newsletter. Additionally, they have their own contests running throughout the year, including the Margaret Reid Traditional Verse Poetry Contest [taking entries now] and the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest [enter in August].  Also worth checking out is their page on Poetry Contests to Avoid which lists scams and questionable sites and organizations.

Poets.org

This is the official site from the Academy of American Poets, so I guess  it is kind of obvious. If you are looking for a favorite old poem or information on any American poet, go here. They also are the main source for National Poetry Month [April, btw, in case you missed that], since they started it about 13 years ago. There are resources for educators and readers, event listings and contests. You can also sign up to get a poem in your email daily for the rest of the month. An interesting addition this year is the Free Verse group through Flickr which has readers’ favorite poetry incorporated into photography. Some of the interpretations and images are fantastic. It is definitely fun to browse.

Waiting for My Life

Originally uploaded by MtGQ

Poet’s Haven

This site is for indy poets to share their work with the web. It is open to anyone, which means that the poems cover just about every topic, style and angst-ridden memory imaginable. You can share your poetry, discuss poetry in general on the forums, get and give critiques, and there are also other articles, reviews, etc. The highlite for me is the Saturday Night with The Poet’s Haven podcast which features readings from live open-mic nights [mostly in Ohio, where they are based]. You can submit a reading to the podcast too here. I actually have a couple old poems floating around on there from a few years ago. I may have to track them down… [BTW: they do protect your copyright- you reserve all rights.]

Giggle Poetry

This is a poetry site for kids, and it is published by Meadowbrook Press, so yes, they push their work, but there are some hilarious poems here. Teachers, and parents can find resources for teaching creative poetry writing to children and kids can read and rate poems, enter contests and play poetry games. The “Smoker’s Epitaph” fill-in-the-blank is a bit creepy, but sure to raise giggles in the youth and young-at-heart [assuming you do not smoke 😉 ]

I know there are many other worthwhile sites out there, and I purposefully did not include blogs, but I would love to learn about any you find particularly helpful or inspiring. Now, I must return to my journal, because I am way behind in the PAD Challenge. Is anyone else posting over there at all? Please share if you are! BTW: They are asking folks to post the favorite selection of their own poems done for the challenge so far. I cannot decide which one of mine I would pick. Any votes?

Today is Good Friday and the prompt is “Fridays”… that one isn’t coming to me today…maybe next week. This is from Day8 which was “Routines”…not great, but done:

Routine Stream

Balance—
Do not fall.
Keep chin up,
Smile.

Steady—
First round-off.
Straighten legs,
Done.

Repeat—
to hand stand.
Toes pointed,
Breathe.

Release—
Now the flip.
Tuck in knees,
Land.

Tuesday’s prompt was a “2 for Tuesday” meaning we got 2 prompts. First- write a “Clean” poem; Second- a “Dirty” poem. That is to be interpreted however you please. Writing both is optional, and I am not sure which one I chose:

It doesn’t matter
how many times
I pick them up
and put them back again.
If I turn my back
or take a break,
they only keep
coming back again.
I put them in boxes
and baskets
and bags again,
but I don’t know why
because they’ll be back again.
I bend up and down
and have been
back and forth again
and again,
but it only goes in
one ear and out again.
So, here I go, again
to pick them all up
before the kids come in…
Oh no!
I threw my back out again!

Finally posted the poem from Sunday, so here it is for you. The prompt on Poetic Asides was to write about a landmark [and Robert Lee Brewer’s is rather amusing]. Mine’s a bit mushy, and I can’t share a pic since it doesn’t really exist anymore, but it is the landmark that stuck in my head, so:

It’s not there anymore,
but I still look anyway.
When I was young, it marked
the line between our town
and the next one on the
unremarkable interstate.

In the middle of the median
grew one leftover tree.
It mysteriously changed
with the seasons and we
eagerly waited to see what
its new blooms would be.

In Spring sprouted eggs,
and flowers for mom.
Summer saw ties in June,
and plenty of red, white and blue.
As leaves fell in Autumn,
our tree grew things like
chalkboards and apples
and of course, jack-o’lanterns.

Some secretive samaritan
snuck onto the median
to bring joy,
smiles and thoughts
to anyone who happened
to drive by and look.
It became a tradition
for thousands of strangers
who grew to expect a tree
bearing maize and other gifts.

Traffic may have been lighter then,
but still, cars sped past in the dark
as stockings and baubles
were hung there with care.
And then one day,
it stopped.

Progress set in, or Time.
The highway has grown and
eaten the median
and a tree could not grow
there anymore, even if those
hands were still here to tend.

Tradition and sentiment
hung hopes and hearts
on another small tree,
on another road,
off the highway
(and in close proximity to the mall)
so seasonal shoppers
can still see the glitter
and new eyes will wonder
who watches over that tree.

I got the prompt this morning and mulled over it all day while doing home and garden and kid stuff. When I got some quiet time to myself I began working on something, but it is not done so I am not posting it yet. I am pooped and need to rest before I can write anymore. So tomorrow I will have 2 poems to write, or one and  a half. Along with the two articles I have to do too. But, I am not feeling that overwhelmed… yet. It feels good to be writing regularly again. Of course, the novel still is incomplete…

I like writing poetry, but I know it is not everyone’s cuppa… I have not always had an easy time sharing it though. Even in a poetry course taken in college, I shied away from sharing time and ultimately did not turn in the portfolio, which was basically the entire course grade. I did/do have a hard time thinking of poetry being graded. I think it is way too open to interpretation, haha, and also, I had/have these issues with rejection. Which is why it is  a bit odd that I have so easily shared these pieces here. Perhaps it is because these bits are hardly personal. They are written to someone else’s prompt, not on my own impulse [the one that sends you scrambling for paper in the middle of the night or traffic until you get the thought OUT, you know]. Because it is a daily exercise, there is a rushed informality to it. I think it is understood that it may stink. And, there is safety in numbers, too. Mine is just one of hundreds of amateur poems in Poetic Asides’ comments. And I am not the only one blogging them.

But, mostly, I think I am able to share them because I am so comfortable now, writing in this space. I have found a little writer’s support group in this blogosphere and even knowing that many others may come and scoff and never return, I certainly appreciate the encouragement I get from you, as well as the inspiration, hearing about your work, successes and struggles. Truth is, I do not get that much irl. Though my hubby, friends and family are encouraging and supportive, too, it is in a different way. Not all of them really understand what exactly I do, nor how I struggle with it. And frankly, I do not share many personal feelings about writing, et al, with them. Sometimes it is hard to put in words, iykwim. So, thank you, because you are here reading this now 🙂 I know I may not make my fortune with this weblog, but it has become priceless to me, and I appreciate you reading. It makes me feel like a real writer.

The prompt on Poetic Asides today was to write an animal poem. I spent plenty of sunny time outside today and was trying to think of what to write about. It was very close to being about bunnies since we broke out the Easter stuff today and the kids are already on the Bunny buzz. That or the ptarmigan which I learned today can change their feather colors for camouflage. Thought that was cool. Instead this came out… Chesapeake Bay influence again, I guess, which is in my view. A lot of crabbers in this area, and not as many crabs these days. So…Ode to the Crab…It’s a little silly, but it is done…-ish.

Blue Crab

“Why so blue, friend?”
I ask rhetorically,
Knowing you’re at the end
Of your species.

Do you have any idea where
You are going from here?
Or notice the changes
You’ve lived through?

You are taking it well,
brave in your shell,
watching the tides
as they change too.

The prompt today was to make the title of your poem “The Problem with [fill in blank]”. Here’s mine:

4/3/2009 8:31:39 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)

“The Problem with Poetry”

The problem with poetry is
it does not always come when you
ask and sometimes it does not mean
what it says. There may be a few

poets who do not agree, but
I have fought with the words at times.
Maybe I just don’t have enough
patience to wrestle with their rhymes.

Yet, I keep going back for more.
What looks good to one may not be
musical for another one’s
eyes. See, on that we can agree.

WOW! There were hundreds of poems in the comments of yesterday’s Poetic Asides. I love poetry, but am glad that I don’t have to read through all those to select pieces for the e-book they are publishing post-challenge. So I got on early this morn to beat the rush….when I started my post there was one comment. By the time I posted, I was the 16th. I wrote it straight into the comments this time, which is a bit different than scribbling in the comp notebook, crossing out words and squishing in new ones. But I think it is OK…theme was “outsider” and for some reason [it was a stretch] I immediately thought of an adolescent girl watching her dreamboat in a crowd of kids at school. I guess she is more of a scientist than I am b/c I channeled information that I had forgotten I learned. Of course, it could all be scientifically incorrect, but I am okay with that. Thanks for reading 🙂

“Free Radical”

I have been waiting
patiently, hoping
today may be the day
you notice,
turn your lens on
me floating by
you, nucleus
in a tightly packed
cellular structure.
I cannot seem
to squeeze my way through
to make my match.

I do not
look like they do,
cannot form
against my nature,
will not change
my own way
in this world.

Still, I grow
unseen
and will cause
noticeable
effect on you
whether or not
you look
my way.

The theme, fittingly, for the beginning of the Poetic Asides’ Poem-A-Day Challenge is “Origins”…here is my first attempt. I am not really happy with it, mostly because I got to the word ‘mark’ this morning in my journal, then tried finishing it this evening with kids bouncing all around me. So the ending stinks and is forced. Actually it’s probably incomplete, but heck, it’s poetry. There is a time factor here, although the “rules” are pretty lenient on when we have to post. Technically, I could work some more and post it next week, but where would the fun be in that? I had to add the extra pressure of NaBloPoMo too.
Anyway, here goes…I live in the historic triangle where the Virginia colony began, btw, which inspired this piece.

“Virginia”

In more ways than four,
it all began here:
the building and planting,
the lessons and loss.
It is not hard to imagine
what they saw in this world,
sailing into the mouth
of the great Bay,
verdant forests and swamps
lacing the coast,
quiet creeks leading
to another nation.
They named it for
untouched purity,
then they made their mark.
For centuries,
have left footprints
and artifacts
and litter by the wayside.
Grown as a nation and
changed the world view.
Four centuries
have seen begin
and end
changes
unforeseen.

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