Monthly Archives: April 2009

An Unfortunate Announcement

I am very displeased to announce that I am forced to take a hiatus from blogging for the next month or so. The demands of work, school, and my looming future are such that I just can’t continue to provide the level of content that I’ve been giving here previously. Rather than delivering you half-baked, mediocre posts, I’ve decided it’s better to take a break and return in earnest around the middle of June.

I’ve gotten a lot of great response to the blog so far, and I’m really unhappy to have to stop now just as I’m getting my footing.  Thank you all so much for reading, and I hope you will pick back up with me in June!

In the meantime, I will continue to tweet vigorously, and you can follow me on Twitter under @paradisetossed. You can also follow my tweets, diggs, more personal posts, and other occasional internet exploits at my tumblelog.  With these two pieces of social media intact, I will hopefully not drop out of your internet lives altogether.

Again, thanks for your support, and until we speak again in June, keep writing!

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iPod vs. Moleskine: False Dilemma?

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I have two Moleskine notebooks which I guard and love like children.  One is the classic pocket-size that I use for everyday notes, passing thoughts, or writing ideas.  The other is a larger, journal-size version in which I keep my more formal creative writing.  I wouldn’t trade either of them for the world: they are perfect for my purposes and their simple, elegant design is completely inspiring.

I could say the same for my iPod Touch.  In the short time I’ve had it, it’s become an indispensable little gadget.  It functions as an mp3 player, game console, remote control, netbook, and much more. As the Moleskine notebook is to writing, so is the iPod Touch (or iPhone) to portable computing.

Up until now, incorporating the two into my already gadget-ridden life hasn’t been a problem.  That is, until Touch Poet came along.  This fantastic little iPhone app has thrown my conception of what each of my devices is for out the window.  Until then, the iPod was the information aggregator: it answered e-mails, looked up words, updated Twitter, and checked my calendar events.  The Moleskines were the creativity engines: they expressed my individuality, explored my own brand of poetry, and generally helped me take a break from the hustle and bustle.  But Touch Poet made things altogether different.  This app allowed me to create little mini poems from words that were brought in from all corners of the internet.  Take a look:

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Granted, the phrases I have up there don’t really constitute poetry, but you get the idea. Words are generated from various news sources, your own e-mail accounts, the works of Shakespeare, Poe, and Kipling, and social bookmarking site Digg. You take those words and arrange them in any way you like.  It’s a simple concept, and a very nice looking app. It even lets you post your final poem to Twitter, which is the most thoughtful feature.

So why did this throw my creative life into (slightly exaggerated) disarray?  Because beyond the initial fun of it, I actually found Touch Poet to be very useful to my creative process.  I started to use the app to find useful phrases that then got incorporated into my larger work.  I wound up with two competing devices, both serving my creativity, to and from which I spent a great deal of my time transcribing.

As you know, oftentimes writing is about rhythm, both structured and unstructured. At first I found that the cacophony of these devices working against one another was interrupting this rhythm, and I felt a strong urge to get rid of one or the other.  With time, though, and even as I’m writing this post, a new rhythm is emerging.  There’s a great partnership to be had between the high tech and the low tech, and slowly but surely I’m learning to balance my time. Until then, I’ll keep writing with my iPod in one hand and my Moleskine in the other. After all, the important thing is that we all keep writing.

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The Wednesday Five

In case you haven’t seen it already, Phil Plait from Bad Astronomy has written a hilarious poem in rhyming couplets called “The ABCs of Skepticism”.  Jonathan Swift, eat your heart out!

In this week’s Five, I wanted to focus on poetry tools instead of poetry databases.  The sites I’ve listed are excellent resources for helping writers, readers, and teachers to deal with complex poetic issues.

1. Wikisaurus
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A little known off-shoot of the vast Wikipedia project, Wikisaurus is one of the best online thesauri out there.  I’ve got nothing against Roget’s, but the interactive nature of a wiki fits the idea of a thesaurus perfectly.  It’s like asking thousands of your closest friends, “What another word for…?”

2. Wordle
Wordle Logo

Wordle is a great site for creating “word clouds” out of your own text.  This can be great for spicing up an otherwise serious topic.  A friend of mine used a cloud from Wordle as a title page for her project on literary freedom in Iran.  Also I think that it’s important for poets to never forget that although we deal in words, much of our art is visual in some ways.  Plus, this tool is just plain fun to use!  Here’s a really great anonymous one about Spring:

3. Poetry Forge

Above is a picture of a a great flash poetry tool for metaphor, but Poetry Forge is chock full of a variety of resources for both students and teachers.  Run by the University of Virginia, this site is well-maintained and straightforward: perfect for when you start to feel bogged down by poetic challenges.

4. readwritethink
Learning Beyond the Classroom

Not to be confused with last week’s excellent readwritepoem, this site is a fantastic reading and writing guide from the International Reading Association.  Geared specifically toward education and making poetry work for teachers and students in and out of the classroom, this site is recommended especially for those of you who instruct poetry in some way.

5. twiHaiku
TwiHaiku - Twitter Poetry, the new art of words

Alright, so I’ll admit that this site doesn’t fit with today’s theme, but it fit with last Monday’s post, and I can’t go another week without mentioning it.  This pretty amazing project is part of the makeliterature.com network, a social website that offers itself up as a self-publishing medium.  With your own makeliterature account, you can submit haiku to the twiHaiku site by simply typing it into the right box, just like tweeting yourself.  Your haiku is then displayed on the @twiHaiku Twitter account.  What this creates is a network of dedicated haiku poets who collaborate to provide the Twitter community with a steady stream of original poetry.  If you can’t already tell, I’m simply brimming with excitement about this project, and watching it grow has been great fun!

And that’s it for today.  I’d like to finish by asking a question to all the poetry teachers out there: what are your favorite resources for getting your students excited about poetry?

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