Sunday Rally Dispatch is a collection of news updates of interest to our poet-blogger community members. Your contributions from your area of the world, your activities, or your interests are welcome. Please forward them to Jamie Dedes of Musing by Moonlight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contributions are subject to editorial discretion and space constraints. Feedback welcome.
ON THIS DAY in 1882, the English Illustrator, Painter, Poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti died. He was born in 1828. Rossetti's art was characterized by its sensuality and its medieval revivalism. His early poetry was influenced by John Keats. The complex interlinking of thought and feeling, especially in his sonnet sequence The House of Life, characterized his later poetry. Poetry and image are closely entwined in Rossetti's work; he frequently wrote sonnets to accompany his pictures. MORE Here I have posted the poem A Sea-Spell along with the painting (1877) for which Rossetti wrote it.
A Sea-Spell by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Her lute hangs shadowed in the apple-tree,
While flashing fingers weave the sweet-strung spell
Between its chords; and as the wild notes swell,
The sea-bird for those branches leaves the sea.
But to what sound her listening ear stoops she?
What netherworld gulf-whispers doth she hear,
In answering echoes from what planisphere,
Along the wind, along the estuary?
She sinks into her spell: and when full soon
Her lips move and she soars into her song,
What creatures of the midmost main shall throng
In furrowed self-clouds to the summoning rune,
Till he, the fated mariner, hears her cry,
And up her rock, bare breasted, comes to die?
ON THIS DAY in 1931the Lebanese-American poet-philosopher and artist and author of The Prophet, Khalil Gibran, died. He was born in 1883 and wrote in the Arabic and in English. MORE
QUOTABLE AND NOTABLE GIBRAN
In honor of our virtual friendships:
A friend who is far away is sometimes much nearer than one who is at hand. Is not the mountain far more awe-inspiring and more clearly visible to one passing through the valley than to those who inhabit the mountain?
THE FIRST WINNER OF THE POET TWEET THURSDAY TRIVIA CONTEST
Congratulations to our first Poet Tweet Thursday Trivia winner, Chimnese Davids. Visit her at, My Poetry & Writing . Please wish her congratulations. If you aren't already following us on twitter, follow us HERE. Join us this Thursday at 10 a.m. PST for our next Poet Tweet Thursday Trivia. We’ll ask a question from the previous Sunday Dispatch. The first poet to answer our question correctly will be featured in the upcoming Sunday Dispatch.
SPEAKING OF TWITTER our own dear SiS (Few Miles), recently posted his 500th Tweet. Congratulations, SiS, from all of us. Tweet him your best wishes HERE
SAMANTHA MARIAH JANE (SMJ) talks to us about writing, blogging, poetry and pen names. Her blog is HERE.
JAMIE: One of the first things that struck me about your blog - after the lovely header - is your statement, "Writing grounds me. It’s like therapy to me, and I can’t get enough of it in my real life. So, this blog is my retreat, my journal, my outlet." I think we all relate to that in one way or another. Please expand on that thought for us.
SMJ: I’ve had a diary or journal since I was young. Writing is personal and this provided me a safe place to express my feelings and thoughts that I couldn’t or wouldn’t, talk about in “real life”. I discovered that the process of writing my thoughts out was therapeutic. Journaling became my retreat, a habit which I carried with me into adulthood. It became a bit of a guilty pleasure. "Guilty” because it seems I have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Since writing is not something I "have" to do,it was easy to feel like I shouldn't be "wasting time" doing it. Over the past few years I started realizing how important writing is to me and that I not only wanted to incorporate it into my life, but that I needed to, for sanity if nothing else. More important: I finally started believing that I deserved to have this outlet.
JAMIE: I know that your name Samantha Mariah Jane is a pseudonym. Many bloggers, writers, and artists use a pseudonym for very legitimate reasons. It strikes me that - in a sense - it's also about assuming a persona and with it the freedom to, perhaps ironically, be truly you. Any thoughts on that?
SMJ: Yes, it’s ironic isn’t it how not using our “real” names can sometimes make it so much easier to be ourselves? That is exactly how it was, and often still is, for me. From early on, I had things that I didn’t feel I could talk about. Fear and insecurities come into play - some valid, some not. It simply can be easier to confide in strangers. I mean, I don’t really care what someone I don’t even know thinks about me, but I might care what my boss thinks, or a co-worker, or my neighbor, or my son’s teacher, or even my mother for that matter.
In addition, anonymity also really provided me the freedom to experiment and open up with my poetry. I could share without the fear of being “judged”. I always liked to write poems, but never thought I was very good at it. Matter of fact, the name of the first blog I created for my poetry was called, “not so good poems (by smj)”. How’s that for confidence? Being anonymous allowed me to share a little initially and test the waters. Then, when I received positive feedback, I was willing to share more.
JAMIE: Although you seem to consider yourself an amateur or a hobbyist, you are quite accomplished. Please give us some idea of how you developed your skills and who were your influences.
SMJ: Thank you. I guess, I don’t feel “accomplished”. I never considered myself a "writer or a "poet". I never held a job that involved my passion for writing. I never took any creative writing classes, until I signed up for a poetry workshop last January, which I am thoroughly enjoy. I think whatever skills I might have come from somewhere inside of me and possibly from years and years of just pouring my heart out on paper.
My early influences were more from my strong love of music. I always loved music. I’m one of those annoying people who know all the words to every song on the radio and feel the need to sing along. I grew up listening to songs by bands like Genesis, Kansas, Styx, and The Doors. My earliest attempts to write poems were actually attempts to write lyrics. They sort of go hand in hand to me. It wasn’t until I started blogging and getting more serious about my poetry that I also became more interested in the works of famous poets such as Emerson, Frost, Keats, and Dickinson. Now that I am taking a poetry class, I am also getting the chance to experience authors like Rilke, Cavafy, and others. The more poetry I read, the more I want to read.
JAMIE: How long have you been blogging? How has it helped in your artistic development and what have you learned?
SMJ: I started blogging around 2007. I am a bit of a computer geek, and have experience in graphic design and building websites. Combine that with my passion for writing, and blogging is right up my alley. I found that a great thing about blogging is that no matter what experiences, interests, or problems you express there are other people who relate. This amazed me. I wound up feeling validated. I could learn from others, and their feedback encouraged me to share more. I love the give and take that happens on blogs. This carried over into my “real life” as well. I began to feel more confident with my writing and found myself worrying less and less about what other people might think. This resulted in my sharing more of myself (poetry and otherwise) in “real life”. It only took me forty-four years to arrive.
JAMIE: What are you getting out of your involvement with our JP community?
SMJ: I am fairly new to the JP community but hope to become more involved. I am impressed by all the support and talent. Every time I visit the pages here, I’m inspired. The spirit of collaboration and encouragement is wonderful. I’d like to thank you, Jamie, for inviting me to share here and also the whole JP volunteer staff for the hard work and effort that go into maintaining a wonderful community. Thank you!
Thanks, SMJ, for a fabulous interview.
BY POPULAR REQUEST poet, novelist, and JP official, Christopher Jones, shares the secrets of his social networking success.
JAMIE: With over 76,000 twitter followers, 5,000 Facebook (FB) friends, and a readership base on Scribd of 50,000, we wonder how you did it. What is yourstrategy and what is the motivation?
CHRISTOPHER: I’ve done social media marketing as a profession since the Internet was young. After I stopped working in the theater, I was approached by an entertainment company out of LA that was interested in hiring me to set-up its Myspace (this was before FB) pages and websites, blogs, etc. They needed someone who was imaginative and knew technology but wasn't one of them so to speak. For a couple of years I got to pretend to be some famous people. It was amusing. I think people forget that over half of a film's budget is spent on marketing. That's right marketing... so when that celebrity follows you or makes a comment, don’t assume it’s really them... just saying from someone on the other side of the computer screen.
The secret to building a follower base is to first have a product or agenda. Mine is to increase readership of my work. Pick social media web sites that compliment your agenda. Post often. Re tweet. People like that. Use hash tags. Link to other users and they will link back to you. Do not directly advertise your product at first. Do it indirectly. Post interesting links to books and authors and people will read between the lines. Also, reach out to people. Do not be afraid to follow people. If they are interested, they’ll follow back. That is why people are on the sites in the first place, whether they want to admit it or not.
Contests, giveaways, anything involving INTERACTION, are great tools to get more followers and keep people tuned into your posts. When people reach out to you with questions or comments RESPOND POLITELY. This is called PR (public relations). Whether we like it or not we are our own PR machines.
Always be prepared to talk with someone about your work in an informed, intelligent manner. I have not only ended with life-long fans of my writing by doing this, but I’ve met some incredible people I now interact with online almost everyday. My brother calls them my groupies. Some time soon I will have time to travel to meet some of my friends in person. I love having pen pals in England, India, Australia, and other far corners of the world. An English school in the Ukraine read all my stuff as part of their curriculum to learn English. I’m in contact with a few students. All it took was being nice and answering their questions. Empowerment is everything. When people feel they have a personal connection or stake in something they are on board for life.
If you are serious about increasing your followings you should find a social media software package to use to manage your followers, posts and connections. I like Manage Flitter, a web-based service. It lets you unfollow and manipulate up to a thousand followers a day for free. That seems like a lot, but with my Twitter account I get an average of one to two hundred new followers a day with out trying. I tend to weed through them as I have been trying to define my niche better. That is another thing, you have to massage these beasts or they can get free from you. (Porn stars and Forex traders tend to not buy literature...)
Also, STAY AWAY FROM POLITICS, RELIGION and ANYTHING HURTFUL OR NEGATIVE! I cannot emphasize this enough. You not only alienate your existing audience but you scare away new audience and run the risk of being taken down by the social media vigilantes which there are a number (one of which may be me)...
Once you have a sizable following you can do more direct type ads. There are companies out there that will contract you to post tweets about their products. Some will only give you pennies per click others will pay you handsomely but not as frequently. I do this and it generates a small income... pays for my beer (HA!) Occasionally I get hit by a company to do tweeting for them and they pay me quiet a bit, though they do not hit me up enough (guys? really? more business here? I know they will be reading this...) Also, don't be afraid at this point to openly discuss your writing or next project. By now your followers know you are a writer and won't be bothered by it.
Just DO NOT post a thousand posts of the same thing all at once. I try to average about 4 to 5 posts a day.
JAMIE: How much time to you invest in maintaining this momentum? Do you enjoy maintaining it?
CHRISTOPHER: I spend on average two-to-three hours a day dealing with my own social media accounts. I have the advantage of doing this for a living. I often can deal with my accounts when I am updating clients’ accounts. I do enjoy doing it, but you have to be able to just walk away after a certain amount of time or end up on the system all day long. I tend to FB a lot, carrying on in depth conversations with some of my followers, which is necessary for my sanity.
JAMIE: How long have you been twittering?
CHRISTOPHER: Despite my large followings, I only recently started my own personal accounts. They are all only a little over a year old now. Because of my history with social media I had always been reluctant to start my own accounts. I was motivated by others to start publishing my writing again and so started the accounts solely to promote my writing. My new novel, Waterboarded, is coming out in three weeks thanks to the Arts Council England.
JAMIE: How do you manage it: blogging, writing schedule, and other responsibilities?
CHRISTOPHER: Sometimes I don't. I am mentally ill. I suffer from bi-polar disorder, once called manic depression. Though I take medication I still cycle. I go through periods of incredible bursts of energy and get tons done. Then I collapse, get sullen and make everyone in my intimate life worry endlessly. I am just two years out of a messy divorce. That life change freed up some time. I am single and my family lives two states away. This leaves much free time to spend working working.
I reached a point about a year ago when I turned 40 and that I felt like I was wasting my life and had not done anything worthwhile other than be a father. I had promised my dad before he passed away that I would not let my writing sit on the shelf. I got busy and have not stopped since. To be honest, I don’t have a social life. I am a broody anti-social writer. I know, that seems funny in light of all my followers...
Thanks, Christopher, for so generously sharing your experience and expertise.
TWO SCOTTISH POETS Rob A Mackenzie and Andrew Philip take to the road for a mini tour of readings at the end of April in England: On 26 April, Rob and Andy hit Cambridge to read for CB1 at The Punter (8 pm, £4/£3). Open mic spots also available. On 27 April, they join Knives, Forks and Spoons poet Joshua Jones at The Birdcage in Norwich (1.30 pm, £3/£2). Also 27 April, you can catch Rob and Andy with Salt poet Liane Strauss at The Wheatsheaf in London (7 pm, £3). MORE [Salt Publishing] http://www.saltpublishing.com/
FROM WRITER AND BOOK DESIGNER Joel Friedlander of Marin Bookworks in San Rafael, California, U.S.A., a review of OmmWriterDana, a simple text processor for writers. Says Joel, “I use Writer every day, creating most of my first drafts in it with the help of an Apple Bluetooth keyboard. Many mornings find me banging away on the keyboard at the local Starbucks, a black coffee next to me.” MORE [Please always do your own research before you buy.]
ONE HUNDRED BLOGS AND SITES FOR POETS, a feature of University Reviews Online, is HERE. They haven’t updated the list since 2005, but I still found many interesting and educational sites.
THE ARTS IN ENGLAND announced on Wednesday, March 30, that it is making dramatic cuts to all forms of the arts – theatre, dance and poetry, which was particularly affected. There was an outcry about the cut to the Poetry Book Society that publicizes all new collections of poetry. MORE
DUOTROPE’S DIGEST is a free writers’ resource listing of over 3325 fiction and poetry publishing markets. Access it HERE.
JP is on Facebook. Link to us HERE.
JINGLE POETRY POTLUCK, WEEK 30
STARTS TONIGHT AT 8 P.M. CENTRAL
EVERYONE IS INVITED…
INLINKZ WILL STAY OPEN FOR 72 HOURS.
Please email news announcements to Jamie Dedes at email@example.com. Please forward photograph or illustrations and include all necessary links.