One Year of Blogging…Some Thoughts

Clock Room in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France

Clock Room in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France

This week marks the one year anniversary of this blog, A Poet in Time. I began it at the end of July 2014 after much thought. My goal at the time was very simple. I wanted a way to discipline my writer’s mind into producing a passable poem each week. They could be brand new, reworked lines shaped into a new incarnation, or experiments in new forms for me. Yes, I hoped someone would read them, otherwise, why use a blog? I’ve never had expectations that many people would read my writing. I’ve been too reluctant to submit many of my poems for submission. I’m too thin-skinned to deal with the rejections that come with the publishing game, so I’ve just gone about with writing on my own terms and in my own way. A blog seemed like fun. I like writing in general. A blog could showcase a poem, but it could also help me move in the direction of a community of poets who, like me, liked reading poetry.

Now that I’ve made it through a year of blogging, I guess I need to decide if it was worth it. Did it meet my goals? Did I discipline myself enough to post a poem a week? Did I meet other writers? Find other interesting blogs?

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I discovered right away that the world of blogging is immense. On Word Press alone, there are hundreds of thousands of blogs. Poets all over the place! I’ve spent a lot of time reading many of the blogs. Some held little interest for me. A few really intrigued me and I readily subscribed to those. I learned the proper blog etiquette:  it’s always polite to acknowledge when someone comments on a posting. If someone follows you, you should at least go and visit their blog, read through a good number of their postings and perhaps leave a comment or two. Following another blogger is harmless enough. It doesn’t obligate you to anything. I quickly learned that some people “follow” you simple to get you to follow them back. I guess I was too old not to realize that the world of young bloggers is a competitive one where numbers count. I read a few postings on why this was important, and then I went back to my quiet ways of reading blogs I felt had excellent writing and ideas.

Early Morning at Bagnegrole (Photo by Yolanda Litton)

Early Morning at Bagnegrole, France  (Photo by Yolanda Litton)

I also discovered the world of art here in WordPress. The number of artists and photographers is also very large. Excellence is there, and I fell in love with a number of photography sites. I found early on that a beautiful photograph was not just great art in itself, but some seemed to inspire poems. It happened quite spontaneously and it began with a professional photographer on WP who always kindly gives me permission to use his breathtaking black and white photographs to a wildlife photographer on FaceBook who is equally generous at letting me use his work. Then, it moved to people I know. I’d see friends’ photographs on FaceBook and very quickly I could see who posted pictures I found irresistible. That was an unexpected bonus. Some were people I knew well. Others were people I worked with but never got to know. It made me realize how complex people are. Everyone has gifts that are there, but often they aren’t visible. I began to really enjoy FaceBook simply because it now gave me much more insight into people I’m acquainted with.

Old home in Eland, North Carolina, photograph by Gary Brichford (c) 2015

Old home in Efland, North Carolina,  Photograph by Gary Brichford (c) 2015

I also discovered that FaceBook has its own private poetry world. There are hundreds of poetry related sites, most of which never interested me. I’d subscribe for a while and then get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work that just didn’t do much for me. Everyone is different of course. My work isn’t flavor of the month for many people. (Even that metaphor would turn off many poets who only live on the ‘edge.’) But gradually I found there were private FaceBook writing sites that were full of excellent poets all of whom have the same purpose of learning to write better. Prompts are frequently presented and people respond in posts. You can ask for advice or guidance and you get it. I fell in love with three such sites all focused on small poems and English versions of Japanese forms of poetry such as haiku and tanka. I then found a number of the poets had their own blogs, which I follow whenever I can. I did learn that most poets who have made their names in the published poetry world use blogging more as a vehicle for presenting what has already been published. No one seems to use it as I do, but that’s ok.

Now, as the one year anniversary is here, I’ve been trying to rethink my goals and how I’d like to continue on from here–or whether or not I even wanted to blog. I looked at all my postings. I certainly did meet my quota of a poem a week. Sometimes more than a week would pass and then I’d post several poems. That was fine in my book.

I took a lot of the narrative around a poem out as I went on. I felt I didn’t need to tell my readers what a specific form was unless it really was something my closer friends (who aren’t writers) might like to know. The poems generally speak for themselves, as they should do.

I’ve toyed with putting some separate pages on the blog, separating poems by genre where it applies. Right now I lack the technical know how about the best way to do this.  Obviously, I have some homework to do.

I’ve also toyed with the idea of a separate page on which to post poems by other people that I’m reading and whose work I absolutely love. I’m not sure about this–it might wander too far away from my simple blog.

As for followers, I have gotten exactly 7,600 views as of today. I know those aren’t all ME, so I guess people are reading. I don’t have a huge following, but I never expected to have that. I quickly learned that the majority of visitors never leave comments or even hit a ‘like’ button. Perhaps they visited and didn’t find anything they liked. Perhaps they just never bother with ‘likes.’ No matter. I’m just glad people do wander around and read things here and there. Perhaps my only regret is that new visitors tend to only read the latest postings. They rarely wander back a year. I loved my first poem I posted about a trip to Edinburgh and the Scottlish Highlands I’d just returned from. But those early poems only have three or four likes at most.

Occasionally someone will repost a poem and then I’ll get a slew of visitors on a period of a few days. That’s always a surprise that makes me smile. A few become followers.

Of the people who leave comments, it tends for the most part to be the same people, but those are all people i love. I love their blogs. I love their thinking. I appreciate the time they take to make a comment. Who doesn’t love knowing your words speak to someone on some level? I do love it…a lot!

I will, for now, continue as I began. The need for a poem a week is no longer needed. I write a lot now. I choose only to post what I feel is my best.

Chapbook 2

In the past year, I published a chapbook with Finishing Line Press. It is called ERASING THE DOUBT, and the whole experience has been very satisfying and exciting for me. Working with professional editors, seeing the typed poems be turned into a very pretty book–and then there is the cover, the beautiful picture by Christine Ellger, a photographer from Dresden who let me use her picture just like that! Amazing how kind people can be. It was such joy to send her a copy of the completed and published book.

Time-Can-Wait

So, where do I go from here? i’ve come up with a few goals to carry me through the next year.

  1.  Post poems I feel are my best work that I want to share with others.
  2. Perhaps separate poems by genre (if I can figure out the way to do this).

  3. Get a few more followers who genuinely like poetry.

  4. Be a good fellow blogger and visit other blogs consistently and leave them some feedback.

  5. Hope that my friends and family will venture over to my blog now and then.

  6. Sharing posts–add some postings that aren’t poems. These will be my ideas about writing or something I’m reading, etc.

  7. Continue to use photography and art in my blog. I would be thrilled to have someone submit a picture to me to use as an inspiration. Will that day ever come?

  8. Continue to be inspired by just about everything in life.

If you’ve read this far, you are probably either a close friend, my husband or me. Thanks for taking time to read this posting today. I hope you’ll come back again soon to browse around.

Mary

Dove photo by Merlune

Dove photo by Merlune

Once

Old home in Eland, North Carolina, photograph by Gary Brichford (c) 2015

Old home in Efland, North Carolina, photograph by Gary Brichford (c) 2015

Once

The door is ajar, waiting for someone to come in,
But no one comes now except for you, you who
Climbed through overgrown grasses circling the house.

Wanderers like you come sometimes, looking for things
They once knew, remembering those they have lost, and
Places that they once loved, places they called home

Once this was home. Families lived here, died here.
Brides moved in and babies came, some were lost,
But most grew into fine young folk. Wars came, and

With them a generation of men might disappear. Yes,
Sickness came but so did love. Life was full then. Every
Home is made of lumber and nails, people and dreams.

Once the fire would have been lit on short winter days,
Keeping us warm, the heat drying wet wool mittens and
Mended socks. Flames burning so hot that our cheeks

Grew red while ice-cold winds knocked on the walls.
Flames burned down to chalky ashes during the night,
While we slept two to a bed and sometimes three.

Father was up early to stir the embers, add hickory logs,
Small broken branches and sticks the children gathered.
From this, he coaxed new flames to burn again all day.

You stand here now today, a cold Saturday in March,
Camera in hand, waiting to capture something, but
What that is you don’t know. Not much is left to share.

Once there were so many stories about the families—
Brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles and aunts. Their
Stories are gone for good but once they were here.

Without warning, memories of your own childhood
Rush into these walls, so real you can almost feel them,
They come so fast—an unasked for surprise.

If you listen hard enough, you hear children laughing
At the three young pups who are worrying the chickens,
And momma running out to chase them with her broom.

But it’s the inside of the house that pulls you back.
Looking up at broken rafters, you study the timbers:
Was it was fire or ice that brought down the roof?

Look hard and you might see momma sitting there near
The fire, the flames giving her light to do her mending.
Here she would sit and work. Sometimes she sang,

Her voice a clear soprano, ours a mix of everything else.
Daddy might take down pawpaw’s fiddle, and begin
Tuning it slowly string-by-string, note-by-note.

If you were the lucky one that day, he might ask you
To rosin the bow for him. Those were the good days
When they’d play our favorite songs or hymns.

But the best part was always the last, when they played
Old timey tunes, foot tapping music we loved.
We’d start dancing together, our shoes pounding hard

Like wild thunder on the old wooden floorboards.
It would echo so loud, we’d dance even faster
And then, exhausted, we finally had to stop.

A small redbird perches up on the open eaves,
Straw in its beak. It is nesting here in the house.
Can you hear its mate singing an ode to early spring?

If you listen to the silence, you might hear the whispers.
Or maybe it’s nothing, lost memories, old stories and
Wind blowing through the open roof, the broken floor.

~ ~ ~

Old Home in Efland, North Carolina, photograph by Gary Brichford (c) 2015

Old Home in Efland, North Carolina, photograph by Gary Brichford (c) 2015

Photographs by Gary Brichford © 2015

Note of Thanks to Gary Brichford, I am honored that you’ve allowed me to use your beautiful photographs of this old house that still stands in Efland, North Carolina. Your pictures make the past so real. Many thanks, my friend.

Old Home in Efland, North Carolina, photograph by Gary Brichford (c) 2015

Old Home in Efland, North Carolina, photograph by Gary Brichford (c) 2015

 

 

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