Building Poetry Community: My Blogging Year in Review

I took part in the Great Poet Bloggers Revival, launched by Donna Vorreyer and Kelli Russell Agodon, which challenged poets to publish one new blog post per week in order to help everyone feel more engaged in the community.

This year, I managed to put together 63 blog posts — not all of these were put out weekly as intended and not all focused on poetry. But I’m feeling happy and confident about the amount of blogging I managed to do in 2018.

Out of all the blogging I’ve done in the past year, I am most proud of the eight poet spotlight interviews I’ve conducted. It’s such a pleasure to be a part of and learn from the poetry community — and since I’ve been lax on participating or attending readings and open mics, being able to still feel connected through these interviews has been wonderful. Links to the eight interviews are presented below.

Sarah Blake on leaving earth and finding home in poetry:

“It’s hard to describe why I write poetry because it feels somewhat out of my control, but I know I need poetry to move through the world and my life, and I’m extremely grateful that poetry is the form that feels like home to me — even if it’s a scary home that I find riveting and that I feel extremely vulnerable in.”

Chelsea Margaret Bodnar on horror and the dilemma of female power:

“I was a total tomboy and actively discouraged being perceived as feminine, but lots of horror movies (think The Ring, Carrie, and even Psycho, in a deferred kind of way) reinforce that femininity can be dangerous, which is problematic, obviously, but also weirdly empowering. Basement Gemini was kind of born out of that idea — the simultaneous, seemingly-contradictory-but-not-really victimization, vilification, and empowerment of women that’s encountered so often in horror.”

Joanna C. Valente on spirituality and the drive to communicate:

“I largely consider myself a witch with a mashup of Eastern Orthodox/Jewish beliefs, which is because of my relationships and upbringing and interest in largely just being authentic and true to myself. So this book is largely an exploration of that as a queer person, using the first part to explore gender and sexuality and dysfunction in the tradition family setting, while the other parts explore this within the technological realm.”

Anthony Frame on the environmental impact of people and making poetry dance:

“I’m not someone who sits before the page every day; I do a lot more daily internal work and note taking, which leads me, eventually to the page — but after a while (maybe a year or eighteen months) I had a decent stack of poems. So, I did what I normally do — I looked through them to figure out my obsessions to help guide me towards a new manuscript.”

Stephanie M. Wytovich on staring down your demons:

“To me, the horror genre is all about survival and strength, which is why I feel drawn to it. I enjoy writing in a genre that doesn’t sugarcoat the fact that monsters (both real and imagined) exist, and I like to take the opportunity to teach my readers (sometimes through personal example) how to face down their demons and win.”

Marisa Crawford on pop culture, feminism, and the value of emotional knowledge:

“There’s a long history of literary critics and gatekeepers insisting that poems that reference pop culture or contemporary culture are necessarily not serious works of art, and that great literature must be timeless. I reject this idea — I think it’s dumb to try to divorce art from your lived experiences and the culture it comes out of, and that trying to ties into this false notion that literature can or should be “universal,” which historically has really just meant writing that appeals to straight white men.”

Holly Lyn Walrath on hybrid writing and the idea of femininity:

“Weird writing inhabits a liminal place between genres. It’s the stuff of the strange and not-quite-definable, a hybrid kind of writing that sings its own song and creates the instruments as it goes. Basically, it’s anything that doesn’t fit the mold. I think this approach excites me because I don’t really think or dream in the ways that are expected.”

Saba Syed Razvi on the interplay between dark and light:

“There is a different kind of knowledge that emerges in the obscured spaces, those shaped by the shadows of what is in the way of our easy reach. The allure of the uncertain, the risk, the hidden, and the dangerous orbit around the notion that risk brings relief, brings possibilities beyond what is easily inspected. Just as we are so accustomed to the image, we tend to crave the comfort of texture or touch, the scent of the unfamiliar as much as the sensation that invites us into staying in the revelry of the uncertain. In this space of darkness, what we see is never really certain, and the secret parts of the psyche find opportunities to come out and play.”

Other than the poetry spotlights highlighted above, I also blogged about my culture consumption (books, movies, TV, games, etc.) throughout the year, shared news about my writing and travels, and hosted a couple of giveaways. Among these, the five that I’m most pleased with are:

    1. As a Single Lady Alone on Valentines Day
    2. The Beautiful Horrors of Junji Ito
    3. Six Things I Loved About Egypt
    4. Jeff VanderMeer’s Wonderbook is a fantastic toolbox for fiction writers
    5. Wizard and Glass – Returning to The Dark Tower, Part IV

All in all, I think it’s been a pretty good blogging year for me. Thank you to everyone who’s been with me on this journey. I hope you’ll stick around and continue reading in the new year.


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My Top Ten Blog Posts from 2016

I published 82 blog posts in 2016, including this one. More than one per week, which is not too shabby, but not too great either.

In terms of numbers, my most popular (or most read) posts were as follows:

  1. Poet Spotlight: Jenna Le on Whales, Womanhood, and the Writing Life
  2. The whole Whole30 thing
  3. Poet Spotlight: Chella Courington on being “at home with voice and vision”
  4. The Whole30 Thing – Week One
  5. Big Poetry Giveaway 2016!
  6. Thoughts on the Whole30 Thing Now That It’s Over
  7. Poet Spotlight: Pamela Taylor on balance in life and poetry
  8. FOGcon Recap 2016
  9. Top Reads of 2015
  10. Saying good bye to David Bowie

It’s interesting to look back and see which of my posts gathered the most interest. On the one hand, posting here is entirely for myself, something to keep me engaged with words and with the books I read. On the other hand, it’s also my author website and ideally I’d like to increase the readership. Looking at the numbers, it seems clear that I need to reach beyond the weekly updates, providing more content, such as Poet Spotlights, event reviews, and longer essay style posts might gain more interest.

I’m stoked that the Poet Spotlights fall into this category. I enjoy helping my fellow poets get the word out about their work and I would like to do more posts like this more often in the coming year — a minimum of one a month, although if I can do more that would be great.

It doesn’t surprise me that the Whole30 posts were in the top ten either. There’s a wide audience for nutrition and food, although it’s not something I’m likely to post on much in the future.

The majority of my blog posts — at a rough guess, I would say at least half — are the weekly update posts that I do. These are great for keeping me accountable and active in posting, but are probably somewhat less interesting to readers (a fact that is reflected in the number of reads they get).

As a side note, I find it interesting that a number of posts from previous years seemed to still be going strong, such as St. Michael’s a jerk and other paintings at the National Gallery (November 2014), which was my second most visited post of the year.

Zero to Hero: An Introduction, if you please

Zero to Hero

I wasn’t going to at first, but I’ve decided to go ahead and participate in the Zero to Hero (30 days to a better blog) Challenge. The challenge involves a new task every day, either writing a post, doing some reading, or in some other way working to develop your blog.

Who am I?

thinkQuite the existential question there. My about page already has some things to say on this subject, but for the purposes of this post, I am a woman-shaped creature, living in the Bay Area, California, who loves her niece, reading, writing, pop culture, and has unhealthily obsession with zombies, steampunk, and Doctor Who.

I’ve been working toward becoming a published poet and writer for a number of years now. Some of my poetry has been published and some has been nominate for awards. I am currently working on a novel as well as a number of other projects.

What is the blog thing you have here?

When I first started out this website and blog was going to be solely focused on my writing. It would be business card for my writing life with updates about published work and my writing progress. At the same time, I was also post on my livejournal with the more random stuff about life, the universe, and everything. I’ve slowly merged the two, and now I crosspost everything.

What you will find here are posts about my writing and creative goals, about writing and publishing in general, travel logs, book and movie reviews, and pop/geek culture squees of joy.

What I would like to include more of on this blog is creative nonfiction, flash fiction, cultural criticism, and maybe some guest blogging and author/poet interviews.

Testing

I’ve added a plugin to my wordpress, which should allow me crosspost automatically from my webpage. I’m hoping this will save me some time and energy in the future.

So, yeah, um, this is a test post to see if it works.

Andrea's Art Box

While art — from sketching to painting to collage — is not my primary focus, it is something I rather enjoy. For a while now, I’ve been toying with the idea of creating an art blog, in which I would post artwork as I create it, good, bad or in between, as well as pages from my morning poetry journal, in which I have started to sketch as well as write poetry. I’ve also been thinking about the idea of creating art pieces that would incorporate both my poetry and some mixed media art.

To that end I have created a blog over on tumblr that will feature the art and poetry ideas that I’ve noted above. The goal is to post (ideally) everyday, but since I can’t seem to even post here everyday, we’ll go with as often as I can — preferably once a week at a minimum.I’ve already posted some older pieces up there, so if you feel to, then take a moment to check them out.

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you wish to comment, you may do so either here or there.]

Train Tracks

Signora, between Austria and Italy, there is a section of the Alps called the Semmering. It is an impossibly steep, very high part of the mountains. They built a train track over these Alps to connect Vienna and Venice. They built these tracks even before there was a train in existence that could make the trip. They built it because they knew some day, the train would come.

~From the movie  Under The Tuscan Sun ( book by Frances Mayes)

I’m rather fond of that story, and in my own way, I am presenting this site as a similar foundation for myself. I have not yet published a novel (have not even finished writing one), however, as I build my career as a writer, this site will serve as a portal, for not just my noveling adventures, but all my creative endeavors.

I will use this homepage to point out projects I’m working on, when my work gets published, events or readings I will be attending or participating in, and any other such announcements. Please also visit my blog for posts about my daily writing progress and challenges, book and movie reviews, and other meanderings.

If you are an aspirant (“a hoper, a dreamer, a magic bean buyer”), please leave me a comment or write me an email about your own tracks. Pursuing our passions doesn’t have to be a lonely affair after all.