April 2009 newsletter

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Newsletter of The World of Words by Elias Tobias

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Goal of 2.5 million daily viewers set for poetry blog
Internationally-known poet Elias Tobias has set a goal of 2.5 million daily unique visitors by January 2010 on his web site, The World of Words by Elias Tobias.  Already the web blog has reached 2.5 million daily page views and more than one million unique visitors a day.

“I am pleased that so many more people are coming to my blog, but with the help of those already checking out the web blog, more people can be exposed to my style of poetry and photography,” Tobias said.

He said the same items that work to make the web blog, at eliastobias.net, successful now, will continue, including a variety of poems on a monthly theme, the Spanish-language poems, photography and graphics, videos, and incentives to get the reader involved with the website itself.  No media, other than the Internet will be used to promote the blog.

Poem to be published in anthology
The poem, “The Beauty of Life,” has advanced to the semi-annual round of the National Amateur Poetry Competition in a contest sponsored by Eber & Wein Publishing, of Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania.  The poet will compete for 126 cash and gift prizes, including a grand prize of $2,500.As a semi-finalist, the poem will be published in Verses and Visions, a multi-volume collection of new and notable poets from around the world, which will be for sale on Amazon. com, and the Barnes and Noble website.

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Vote for the best Spanish poem in Palabras de Inspiración

The Spanish-language book category, Palabras de Inspiración, has been associated with the World of Words by Elias Tobias for six months now, and with one poem, the collection had grown quickly to include poems on many topics and themes.  We would like to know which one you think is the best one.  Five poems were chosen as the top poems. Look at them (just click on the titles) and decide which one is best. E-mail that choice to contact@eliastobias.net.The winner will be announced in the May newsletter, Exponet.

El libro en español de la categoría, Palabras de Inspiración, se ha asociado con el mundo de las palabras de Elias Tobias durante seis meses, y con un poema, la colección ha crecido rápidamente para incluir poemas sobre muchos temas y temas. Nos gustaría saber lo que uno cree que es la mejor. Cinco poemas fueron elegidos como los poemas. Míralos (basta con hacer clic sobre los títulos) y decidir cuál es el mejor. E-mail para que la elección contact@eliastobias.net. El ganador se anunciará en el boletín de mayo, Exponet. Primeros poemas son español

1. La sal y la pimienta (Mi poema de aniversario) 2. Mi canción Victoria 3. Mi Compás 4. Llorar 5. Mi segundo aire

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Mike’s Book Café has free books online
The gift of reading is a gift that keeps on giving, long after the Christmas presents have been opened.  The best presents are free and there are hundreds of books online for no cost from a variety of sources.  So when it’s cold outside, and you have time on your hands, fix yourself a cup of coffee and then pick up a book or anthology of poems and relax.

If you just want the latest news from your own hometown to the nation and world, go to Topix at http://www.topix.com/. The type in the name of your city or town in the search box and get information from your neck of the woods.
Here is a set of links from Mike’s Book Cafe:
1. Thousands of books available through http://www.readbookonline.net/
2. Turn page after page at http://www.pagebypagebooks.com/
3. Read and print books for free from http://www.readprint.com/
4. Want a romance novel? Choose hundreds at http://www.publicbookshelf.com/
This is just a start of what can be found for free.  Reading in fun-damental.

Poetry theme for April is growth
As the start of spring in the form of plants reaching through the soil, people can grow in spirit and health this month.  Poetry can help people feel good about themselves.  With this in mind, the poetry theme for April on the World of Words by Elias Tobias is growth.

The World of Words offers several articles for people to grow poetically. This site has an article about how to get published, links to potential publishers, an article about how to set up a poetry web blog in three easy steps,  a set of four mini-lessons regarding writing tips, and even a poetry first-aid for those writers who need just a little more help with their words.  The best thing is that all this is free.

How to start a free poetry blog in three easy steps

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How to have a free poetry blog in three easy steps or claiming your homestead on the wild frontier of the Internet

(Editor’s Note: see follow-up article, at http://eliastobias.net/?p=2386 )

By Elias Tobias
For serious writers, there comes a time when various types of contests, open poetry nights,  and sharing works to friends and family are just aren’t enough.cowboyportraitbw.jpg
Publishing a book with a traditional concept, even with publishing-on-demand companies on the Internet, still takes some sort of cash investment.  Self-publishing is how many great writers received their start, and it remains an option, if money is available.  Like the open ranges of the Old West, the Internet offers alternatives to getting published without great costs for writers.
One option is to start a free poetry blog, and it can be done in three basic steps.  First, decide what kind of blog will be created. Then get a free quality host that offers an independent e-mail option, and then third, maintain and promote the web site through personal and online network techniques.
Getting Started
     I was at this point 10 years ago when I started my World of Words by Elias Tobias.  I had a computer full of poems I wanted the world to read, and I realized I wasn’t going to get paid for it.  Unless the writer can arrive at a way to get advertising on the web site in an appealing manner, forget the money reward.  Getting exposure may lead to being paid as a professional in the future.
Some people are afraid that the work maybe stolen, copied or used without their permission.  That is a reality for all Internet content, and all blog content is basically copyrighted, except U.S. government sites, which is in the public domain.  There is a modest fee to register a copyright for a web site for those who want to make blanket coverage for their work.  Of course, all content featured and not original material should be cited to protect the copyrights of other authors of record.
Before hitching up a wagon at the Independence, Missouri, of the Internet, even with the call of “Go West Young Man (or Woman)” ringing in your ear, think about the type of audience to be sought.  On the Internet, there is certainly the good, bad and the ugly, so think of how the blog should be viewed.  It needs boundaries.  I have mine rated G. Content can’t be libelous, racist or discriminatory to any race, ethnicity or country of origin, sexually explicit or pornographic, extremely violent in nature or display excessive use of profanity,  or terroristic in nature or supportive of terrorist activity.  Some of this usually ends up in some form as a privacy policy for the web blog.
Erik Deckers, director of sales and marketing at Vision Direct in Indianapolis, Indiana, has become a renowned blogger and social networker. Since information on the Internet has a way of staying around a long time, don’t be negative about other people and situations, he suggested. The whole world may be watching what is posted anywhere on the medium, including videos, and you don’t want to end up as the subject of a story on the TV news.
I have a test of credibility, called the Mother-in-Law test.  My mother-in-law occasionally responds to me via e-mail about something posted, so I know she reads it.  I need to look good as a son-in-law, so I figure if what I put on my web blog is acceptable to her, the world is at my feet.
Also, words and images on the Internet are published, like a newspaper.  Articles can be deleted on blogs, but once the message goes out, the deleting work won’t always repair damage already done.  Also, work must be proofread. I have learned that from experience. Typos and inconsistent style on the web blog are items that can also damage the credibility of a person’s work.  The blog is a reflection of that person, seen 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Getting technical, sort of
Loaded with a wagon full of supplies, poems, thoughts, ideas, it’s time to hitch your wagon to the stars, or Oregon, whichever comes first.  Aware of the outlaws, ruffians, changes in the weather, a variety landscapes and other obstacles, you strike out on your own, along with other hundreds of people who have their own wagons in the wagon train.
Deckers has his favorite blog creation web sites among the many available today.
“I recommend, especially from someone who is not real computer savvy and they don’t want to spend a lot of time on it, www.blogger.com/ or www.blogspots.com/.  There is not much you need to do. You need to pick out a name for the blog. They even check to see if that is available for you. Then you pick out your theme, and that is actually the hardest part. You pick out the colors you want. Not only can you pick the layout, but you can select the colors that appear for background, text, etc,” Deckers said.
He said the name of the web blog should be original and contain the name of the thing you want to be known for.  My title, World of Words by Elias Tobias” is exactly what I wanted to say in a title.  If poetry is the main aspect of the web blog, the keyword “Poetry” should be in the title.  If the name of the writer is more important, the name should be in the title since search engines use keywords in titles for locating the new web blog.
With these two favorite beginning blog sites, there are two advantages over others, besides being free, Deckers said. First, they are owned by Google, which means the new blog is likely to be rated higher at first when the blog debuts, and to get the blog, you need to sign up for G-Mail, another service owned by Google, for another e-mail contact for the new blog.  He did not recommend using a personal or work e-mail account for the blog.
An option for those who want a more direct route to the web blog with their web address is to buy a domain name from www.godaddy.com or another name registration site, and the yearly fee for this is usually $8 to $15, Decker said.
“You can do that, and I recommend it. You can do it fairly cheaply, but that won’t stop you from having a blog. This is useful if you are really trying to create something you want to be known for, whether it’s a product or an art form,” Deckers said. “If a person is doing this for fun, I would not knock yourself out trying to buy http://www.poetry.com/ or http://www.indianapoetry.com/. Something may be available, but there are so many people doing this that I’m sure that everystatepoetry.com is taken.  You might have to do ‘Indianadot poetryblog.com.’ “
As of Oct. 8, 2008, http://www.indianapoetry.com/ is still available, by the way.
A regional or geographic name included in the title of the web blog can not only add variety, but make the blog stand out in that region or area for search engines on the Internet, he said.  A localized blog name attracts viewers looking for topically specific sites for that area. If the title included “Poetry” and “Indianapolis,” it would be easier for a person to find poetry web blog in Indianapolis.
For the more technically minded, Deckers recommended Word Press for another blog creation site.  It has plug-ins, or programs that can be included to add functionality to the web blog.
Now that the journey to start a web blog is about to the Oklahoma Territory by now, and you have survived the pouring rain and hot days, the journey is really just getting started.  The site has been created and now it’s time for the reason why you got this far, to publish your work.  Categories can started as books, as I have on my web blog.  Static pages for things which don’t change can be set up, and these are good for biographies, since readers want to know more about the people writing the poems.  Any privacy policy can be established.  Content can be discussed around the nightly camp fires with other fellow travelers and their wagons in the wagon train.
Feedback is important to blogger, so a good e-mail with spam filter capabilities is needed to stay in contact, and Deckers said G-mail would be preferred over free e-mail accounts from places like Yahoo because of the spam problem. One tip he gave to stop much spam to begin with is how the link is set up on the blog.  Automatic spam programs look for the “@” symbol in the e-mail address. Spelling out the e-mail address will  help prevent this problem, and the link should be written out as “eliastobias(at)gmail(dot)com” within any text content.
Getting the words out
Somewhere about now, some of the people in the wagon train have decided to settle along the way or maybe heard of greener pastures in California, so the number of wagons headed north to Oregon may be smaller.
Choices are being made with your web blog that deal with content. How you set up your blog pages will determine how often search engines find them in the Wild West of the Internet.  Use of videos can greatly improve your visibility, and a link to YouTube can bring unlimited number of videos to your viewers, Decker said.  Many PC’s have built–in movie-making type program to create simple, but effective videos from video clips or still pictures. Be aware of copyright issues here from work (including music) that is not in the public domain.
I have nine videos associated with The World of Words by Elias Tobias.  Decker said that inbound and outbound links increase the networking profile of the web blog. Outbound links to other web sites show that web blog is connected to other sites, and inbound links from other web sites will complete the cycle and bring people to your web blog.  I have the International Poetry Link Exchange to offer new poetry bloggers to those who put a link to the World of Words blog.
Using the Notepad function on the PC’s can remove all pre-existing format issues.  The process is easy. Copy the text, probably written in MS Word, paste it in Notepad.  The copy the text in Notepad (as plain text), and paste it into the content area of the blog.  All preset formatting styles on the blog will then apply to the content.
The more activity on the blog will give the blog a higher Internet rating since bloggers like fresh material, Decker said. Entries should be made at least once a week, and they don’t have to be long.  A good 200 words will do just fine.  Two entries a week are better and daily is the best way.  Those who write every day usually set up a week’s worth of blogs as drafts, and then post them each day as if they are new, he said.  I usually have two or three poems per week ready to go as drafts. It saves time.
After typing the title of the page in the blog, repeat the title in the text of the blog.  This will help gain search engine exposure.  Bold facing the title won’t do much for the page, except look better graphically, Decker said.  By going into the HTML through the HTML button on the blog page, change the headline in the text a larger font size.  Put  brackets<> before and after the headline with H3 in the first bracket and /H3 in the second. It should look like this:

Title of article

on the page. This change will get the attention of the search engines and more traffic to the page.
Don’t forget the impact of networking, either person to person, or via the Internet.  Business cards with the web blog logo can be made by popular easy to use desktop publishing programs and good quality card stock with perforated edges that pop out cleanly from the page. Also, they can be ordered on the Internet for free at Vista Print, with paid shipping and handling.  Hand the cards out an every opportunity.  Internet blogs like Smaller Indiana are networking sites with other bloggers, and genuine comments on their sites can bring traffic to your site, Decker said.  Mentioning an event with more information at your blog address will increase traffic to your web site, he suggested.
Another way to get attention is to publish press releases for free on the Internet, and I recommend prlog.org.  There are others out there, but at Prlog, you can register and links to the web blog are included for free (that word again).  Put the press releases, by date, in a special place on the web blog for others to use.
Home Sweet Home
Now you have arrived at your destination, and it is time to built your cabin by the stream and be a pioneer in the Wild West of the Internet with your new poetry blog.
Build reader interest by getting the readers involved. The World of Words is set up to be more than just another poetry blog.  The World of Words by Elias Tobias has several free opportunities for its readers to become part of the web blog.  First, it is very easy to send a comment about any poem on the screen. Your course content can be individualized to make the character of the web blog all your own.
On my Web site, go to the right side of the page and see link to the free poetry first-aid section, the free poetry forum for  those have poems to submit to others to read,  free poetry posters, links to other poetry Web sites, free tips about how to get published, free poetry writing lessons, and even a short story that makes for good bed-time entertainment. Have opportunities for promotion from others by offering downloadable screensavers and such.
Poems and photographs on the web blog are put together in electronic books.  Look on the right side of the page and see the categories.  There are several books to read.  The titles include: Love Notes, Figments of My Reality, 99% Fat Free Elias-Brand Poetry, My 60 Favorite Poems, Color My World, Words on the wall: Mental Grafitti , Grace and Glory and Palabras de Inspiración, the set of poems on Spanish.  Each book has a different theme and the books grow with each blog entry since the poems are logged in to the books when they are posted. As an added bonus, most of the poems in the Love Notes have audio tracks so that you can hear Elias Tobias read the poems aloud.
A monthly newsletter can be a useful tool for a poetry blog, and I have The Exponet, a newsletter that introduced a theme of writing for each month, along with other information.   Your course content should be individualized to develop the character of the web blog.
In time, the cabin will grow into a home as you include more information and way to get people to enjoy what you have to offer.   If there are any questions about this article or topic, please contact me at contact(at)eliastobias(dot)com.

September newsletter

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Newsletter for the World of Words by Elias Tobias 

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World of Words by Elias Tobias celebrates a decade on the Internet 

During the last decade, the poetry web site, The World of Words by Elias Tobias, has created a small, but loyal international fan base.  September 2008 marks the 10th anniversary of the founding of the poetry web site by Michael D. Hall in Brownsville, Texas. The writer has used Elias Tobias as his pen name since 1991.

With the old Web site, made with Tripod with its free option, a variety of advertisements were attached to the site, but the new one has no endorsements flashing. The old Web site had from 600 to 800 page hits a month with limited promotion or regular maintenance, except for a home page redesign several year ago and the poem of the month, a feature which will be retained in the new Web site.

In February 2008, The World of Words by Elias Tobias celebrated a year with its new host. The poetry Web blob was officially launched Feb. 12, 2007. The new Web site was designed by Alejandro Quetzeri of Star IT Experts LCC with the consulting of WSI Internet & Education.

Quetzeri said the emphasis in the creation of the site is to allow the company or author of the content to be in total control of the content. The programming allows an individual to easily update the content as often as necessary, without knowing technical computer codes once the Web site is established.

“It’s easy to work with,” Tobias said about maintaining the Web site. “It just takes time to get the main content set up and work with it on a regular basis. It needs to be fresh to maintain reader interest.”

Many of the goals of the new poetry blog have been accomplished.  Audio was started for the Love Notes collection, and more poem books have been added.  More pages were added including Poetry First-Aid along with more biographical information about Elias Tobias and the use of photographs and graphics.  Several videos promoting the web blog are available through YouTube.

Spanish Poems are latest addition
A new book or category, Words of Inspiration or “Palabras de Inspiración,” is being created on the World of Word by Elias Tobias poetry web blog and one poem by Elias Tobias will be featured each week on the site.

“After living on the border of Texas for 16 years, I know that a world of Hispanic culture includes creative writing, and that in my mind, means poetry,” Tobias said. “”Hispanics have a very colorful and imaginative literature tradition.”

The poems for the new book were previously published in the Spanish-language newspaper section of The Brownsville Herald in Brownsville, Texas.  Each poem on the poetry weblog will be linked to its English cousin, for those who want to switch back and forth.

Armed with 30 or so poems by Elias Tobias already translated, the shift to help meet poetic needs the Hispanics world wide will be accomplished with the new book or category, “Palabras de Inspiración,” on the World of Word by Elias Tobias poetry weblog.

Much of the credit of the new book goes to Santos Garcia, the news editor of the Spanish publication of the Brownsville Herald, who initially translated and published the poems. Sandra Toledo, a Spanish instructor has been preparing the Spanish-language pages for publication in the poetry blog.

For more information, go to contact(at)eliastobias.net.

For full PDF version, click here.

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School’s Starting: The Assignment

The pools are closing after Labor Day, and the last splash will quickly become a memory as the new school year starts for new students to college students finishing their degrees.  Education with be the theme for September at the World of Words by Elias Tobias, and like any good teacher, I have an assignment for my readers. Write a poem and sent it to the Free Open Poetry Forum for other to read. It can even be a poem written for class. It’s a two for one deal.

If you need some help to get started, a good teacher would not make an assignment without something to read. I won’t be the exception. I have four lessons under Poetry Writing Tips in the categories part of this web site.  So get started. 

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Download the “Save the earth” poster

The environmental movement that began in the 1960s is still alive and growing into the 21st century. You can express your support the movement by downloading this poster image taken by Mike Hall, and use it to express your concern for the environment.  To get the full image, click here or click on the thumbnail photo.  Go to “Save the Trees” poem  post on this blog  that initally published the poster offer.

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Spanish – language poems being prepared

The new book or category, Words of Inspiration or Palabras de Inspiración, is being created and pages are being set for publication. One poem by Elias Tobias will be featured each week.  The poems were previously published in the Spanish-language newspaper section of The Brownsville Herald, in Brownsville, TX.  Each poem will be linked to its English cousin, for those who want to switch back and forth.  For PDf of full release, click here.

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Mental Grafitti: Words on the Wall

The World of Words by Elias Tobias will continue poems for a new book or poetry category, Mental Grafitti: Words on the Wall.  This will be a collection of thoughts that at first may be random, however the common theme will be poems that are similar to the artwork of those who paint their thoughts with spray cans on walls and train cars. They are saying this is who I am, and this is where I am at this time in my life.  Its the art of the common people.

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Childhood

We were children when life was a living play.
We were learning new things everyday.
There wasn’t anything we couldn’t do or say.
There was a chance we could get our way.
Hopes of tomorrows became memories of yesterday.
Our models were transformed from colored clay.

With each sacred sunrise of each day,
my hope is the feelings of my youth will stay
in my heart and in my mind. I can only pray
I won’t be smothered by responsibility today.
There seems to be a mountain of bills to pay.
I will be free of my obligations someday.

July Newsletter

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Newsletter for the World of Words by Elias Tobias

Celebrate the Fourth of July
flag-animation.GIF One third of the summer is gone, and I’m not sure where it went. One thing is for sure, though, and that is July is a time to celebrate not just summer, but the founding of theUnited States of America.  Fly the flag on the Fourth of July, and while you enjoy fireworks that day,  remember those who have fought to make sure this country remains what it is and can be in the future.

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The theme for the remaining two months at the World of Words by Elias Tobias is Summer of Fun. Words and photos will illustrate this theme, and readers are invited to send their summer snapshots via e-mail with basic caption information, and published with the new Summer Snapshots logo by sending pictures to The World of Words at eliastobias2002(at)yahoo(dot)com.

reading-animation.GIF Books available
The World of Words is set up to be more than just another poetry blog.  Poems and photographs put together in electronic books.  Look on the right side of the page and  see the categories. The titles include: Love Notes, Figments of My Reality, 99% Fat FreeElias-Brand Poetry, My 60 Favorite Poems, Color My World and Grace and Glory.

As an added bonus, most of the poems in the Love Notes have audio tracks so thatyou can hear Elias Tobias read the poems aloud. That’s cool. Also under the category heading are other choices like free poetry writing tips,  Poems of the Month and easy access to all the monthly Exponent newsletters.
iplexchange-logo.jpg International Poetry Link Exchange

To be a success in any venture, it helps to know people, the insiders. The new International Poetry Link Exchange at the World of Words by Elias Tobias may help those promising poets the initial exposure needed. Thousands of people around the world have their own poetry blogs or Web sites.

Most cable companies or providers that provide Internet service have a part of the service which allows customers to create at least one personal web site. Independent hosts have free or low cost web site opportunities what are create to be poetry Web site.

This page is dedicated as an international poetry link exchange to create a network of links for those who have poetry Web site or other link exchanges.  Readers are offered a free opportunity to have other appropriate links on this Web blog in exchange for placing a link for the World of Words by Elias Tobias on their Web blog or site. This Exchange is a companion page to the existing Poetry Links Page on the World of Words at eliastobias.net.
To get started with the International Poetry Link Exchange, all that needs to be done is simply send an e-mail to eliastobias2002(at)yahoo(dot)com,and request a link exchange.

Include your name, and the name of the site along with the link to be exchanged.  Also include at attachments of art, photos, or logos to go along with the exchange link.  The site will be checked out, and if approved, will be posted on the Exchange page by clicking here. That’s it, except to post the link on the other Web blog or site once the site is on the Exchange page.

write_on.jpg  Poem of the Month

Ancient Curse

While I was making a sand castle on a summer day,
I found a foreign looking bottle.

Eager to see through the glass,
I wiped the sand away, and then a
strange bearded man appeared before me.
He said I was his master, and I had three wishes.
For each of them I wished for three more,
and from each of  those, I wish for three more.
I stopped my sand castle to make a list
of wishes in the order to achieve
material success in life, and he agreed.

Then he told me a story of how he
was once free like me, and then was put
under a spell to serve greedy masters
as an ancient curse centuries old.
I asked if he had amazing powers,
why was he still held captive to his soul.
It was written in the Rules of the Sand
his abilities were never violated.
Those who tried paid the price, he said.
He had to use his powers for others.

I used my last wish on my list to
Set him free to be himself, and he walked away.

To read this poem in Spanish, click here.

Mini-Lesson 1

Mini-Lesson One: Everyone Can Participate!

    Interest in poetry writing and poetry in general is growing every year, at every age level. Several publishing companies in the United States offer monetary prizes in contests, and these contests draw a large response. These publishers offer anthologies to those poets who don’t win the money, at a price, of course. I have at least 10 books from two publishers alone. These books are evidence that thousands from all walks of life and all ages are writing poetry.
     Further personal experience indicates a bulletin board service (BBS) I started in college, The Poetry Club, quickly became too big for a single student account. The BBS was a response to the limited “official” university poetry magazine I felt did not reflect the real poetry potential
at the school. Within two years the BBS merged with another short story BBS and the Ball State (Muncie, Indiana) Literature Foundation became the official on-line school-sponsored writing magazine. That is making a long story very short, but the net effect is proof that poetry is alive today.
     At first. potential writers may be not willing to risk writing their emotions, ideas or feelings on paper (or otherwise documented) for others to read, but as the famous ice skater Scott Hamilton once said, “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” Everyone has feelings and ideas. Writing
is good therapy, an outlet for feelings or emotions that would otherwise be stifled, lost or forgotten.
     The more people read poetry, the more they want to be writers because writers are also readers of poetry and other types of writing. The joy of having your work read just by members of your family or your friends may be enough for you to get started. Songs on the radio are popular, in part, because of the feelings people put into the words and music of the song, and these feelings are inspired by the work of the artist. Poetry works the same way. Those who are risk recording their thoughts need to learn some of the techniques of the writing of poetry to improve their work. Reading other poets is a great start. Seeing how others write, and constant practice with many poems will develop your own style.
    The purpose of the following three segments of series examine sources of inspiration, the writing process, figures of speech that give life to your words, and sound devices that make your words real. The last segment shows you how to put all of these tools to use, not all at the same time perhaps, and connect your feelings and emotions to your new readers.
    Poetry is for everyone, and poetry – good or bad – offers a chance to seek connections, spark a feeling, or concentrate on a single important thought – a truth of life. Everyone can participate. 

For more information go to poetry techniques, click here.

Mini-Lesson 2

Mini-Lesson Two: Stay with One Topic

      Notice: Some information and poetry for this series of poetry lessons is
taken from Fundamentals of Poetry by William Leahy, published by Kenneth Publishing Company, Box 11120 , St. Petersburg, FL 33733, 1987 Edition, Copyright 1963. Unless otherwise noted, all specific examples and poems in this series are from this book.
   Ever since children are first introduced to Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty,
and other Mother Goose – style characters, the poem is around. Songs are
poems set to music, and as children grow, the characters in the poems change. One factor doesn’t. The poems are usually about one thing- one feeling, one person in particular, one event, one something. Most of the first poems were ballads, and were not written down. People, with string instruments as accompaniment, went from town to town telling stories.
   This tradition is still here, and a good poem deals with one subject and
tells a story. There is the challenge. Poems are short, usually, and every
word must count. These kinds of things scare beginning writers. Faced with  the possibility of reducing an entire story to 20 to 30 lines or less, using the right kind of rhyme, is too much for some. First poems don’t always have to rhyme. We1ll get to form in a later lesson, so first concentrate on the one idea, the one concept that you want to get across.
   Here is poem I wrote that was published in the Borders Review, in this
first year of it’s publication, Spring of 1993 at the University of Texas at Brownsville.

Land Mines

The wall is down…
Concrete is shattered
into splintered blocks…
Guards with guns are gone…
Only deep holes remain
where fence posts stood…
But land mines are still
planted ready to explode
the past into the reality
of the present.

   The subject is war-concentration camps, prisoner of war camps, the Berlin Wall. The physical evidence of the past is gone, but two things remain  – memories and land mines. Even if the forgotten buried mines are found and destroyed, the memories remain, and those involved in a war conflict will never forget the destructive power of this action. Constant reminders – a lost limb, a forced move, a deceased father or brother other family members – are the land mines that “explode the past into the reality of the present.”More on the use of symbols is in a later lesson.
   “Land Mines” has impact due to the imagery produced by the combination of descriptive words.The stories contained in this poem are not written by the author, but by the reader, who somehow can identify with this experience being described. Even if something happened in the past, the poem is being read in the present, and using this tense makes a poem alive, even though it may be hundreds of years old. Also note that poem does not rhyme.
     Next is a poem that expands on the notion “April showers bring May flowers” It is a personal metaphor by William Watson.
 
April

April, April,
Laugh thy girlish laughter;
Then, the moment later,
Weep thy girlish tears!
April, that mine ears
Like a lover greest,
If I tell thee, sweetest,
All my hopes and fears,
April, April,
Laugh thy golden laughter,
But, the moment after,
Weep thy golden tears!

   Is April a month or a girl? Are the tears of the girl or the rains that
happen that month?
   The hopes and fears could be the expected outcome of the family’s yearly harvest. There is some use of rhyme, which helps create the poem’s particular style. Poetry is a form of communication, and as such needs a sender and receiver with a source of information between the two. The source can be a traveling minstrel or a poetry web page. Still, poetry needs to be enjoyed by the reader as much as the writer enjoys writing it.

For more information go to poetry techniques, click here.

Mini-Lesson 3

Mini-Lesson Three: Your Inspiration

Notice: Some information and poetry for this series of poetry lessons is taken from Fundamentals of Poetry by William Leahy, published by Kenneth Publishing Company, Box 11120 , St. Petersburg, FL 33733, 1987 Edition, Copyright 1963. Unless otherwise noted, all specific examples and poems in this series are from this book.
There is a saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”  To a certain extent, that is true. Force may be used in a temporary situation, but words have longer lasting power. Words, spoken or published, have sparked wars, created nations, and changed the world in many ways. Documentation is the main phrase in business, government and education. Millions of documents are stored in different media daily. Archeologists depend of discovered documents to find out more about lost civilizations. Even knowing how ruthless Hitler was, his rise to power was done legally, according to German law at the time. Without propaganda, Hitler would have remained a lowly corporal. There is power in words! Now back to poetry…
Knowing the power of words, the writer needs inspiration to tell a story and to make his or her rhymes. Poetry is not all just describing the clouds or flowers, but it1s a good place to start. These kinds of things are objects around us. Writers need subjects that are familiar to them. It could be flowers or the  clouds, but like reporters, poets see things around them in a different way, and put them into a perspective that makes the object fit in that writer’s reality.
Unlike traditional reporters, though, poets can use adjectives and adverbs and  action verbs to show emotion or feelings for a certain subject or topic. Poets are reporters in disguise!
One of my favorite recent poems is “On Days Like These.” I wrote it on a December day, the day my school was to dismiss for Christmas break. This is a stressful  time for everyone, especially teachers, who sometimes don’t want to be in the classroom as much as students desire to be at home. There are problems, unexpected situations, and sometimes plain bad luck that happen on “One of those days”  as the phrase goes.

On Days Like These

When the questions are in shades of gray,
it’s hard to think what to say
on days like these.

When I wrap my arms around you tight,
my insides feel just right
on days like these.

When my emotions are tossed about,
I just want to shout
on days like these.

When my mind rests at ease,
I sip a glass of iced tea
on days like these.

When life’s solutions don’t seem fair,
I find it hard to care
on days like these.

When there doesn’t seem to be time,
I find those who are kind
on days like these.

When the answers don’t seem right,
the end isn’t in sight
on days like these.

When I see that old photograph,
I can’t help but laugh
on days like these.

When I see you smile at me,
I’m glad you love me
on days like these.
The original inspiration of the poem is not evident. Poets have a license
to exaggerate the facts, to create a new situation, invent details, and
improve upon the kernel of inspiration. This license is used only to achieve
what the poet desires from the poem. Historically correct ballads would
attempt to include all the facts along with detailed accounts and descriptions of the actions. Here is a very famous poem by Tennyson, “The Charge of the  Light Brigade.”

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

“Forward the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
Some one had blundered.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do or die.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to the right of them,
Cannon to the left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flashed all their sabers bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wondered.
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the saber stroke
Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not,
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to the right of them,
Cannon to the left of them,
Cannon in back of them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death.
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
Oh, the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made!
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

There are enough words in the English language to describe any thing,
situation, action or place. Poets have extended their license to exaggerate
to include the right to create new words if one does not fit.
As demonstrated in this lesson, the right word or punctuation mark in the right place can have a profound difference. I heard on the news that a U.S. defense contract was increased by $70,000 because a comma was left out in one particular section of the contract. Observe the things, the people  and events around you for the basis for your inspiration, and like tea, let ideas seep until they can become subjects for your poems. The words may taste good. I once read a poem about how to eat a poem.

For more information go to poetry techniques, click here.

Mini-Lesson 4

Mini-Lesson Four: Use the Writing Process

    Notice: Some information and poetry for this series of poetry lessons is
taken from Fundamentals of Poetry by William Leahy, published by Kenneth Publishing Company, Box 11120, St. Petersburg, FL 33733, 1987 Edition, Copyright 1963. Unless otherwise noted, all specific examples and poems in this series are from this book.
    This the fourth part of this series, and you are asking, “When are we
going to get started?” This is not going to cover the technically aspects and terms of poetry. There is more of that to come. We have been getting started, whether or not you realized it. There is a process for writing that I believe to be used for all types of writing, and I can say that from a teacher’s point of view. From a speech to a book report, a short story to a poem, all specialized writing strategies are derived from a basic writing process with five phases or steps that are inter-related. In class I put these steps on  poster in a big circle with red arrows between each step pointing both  directions. The word “Think” is in yellow type in a blue center ball.

Prewriting

    Prewriting is getting your ideas together, organizing them, and putting
them into a order that is flexible. There are dozens of strategies to get
the prewriting stage started. The inspiration section is one part of the
prewriting. Once you have a idea, then focus into one topic for your poem.
List your ideas, especially in a journal or note pad. Discuss your ideas with
others. This often helps if your counterpart really takes your efforts to
write seriously. If you don’t know enough about a topic, do some basic
research. It doesn’t have to be a research paper, and encyclopedias on
cd-roms and other internet sources are available if you have a computer.
    One good prewriting is to use mapping, a series of webs, or clusters
of circles that represent your ideas. If bees are your subject,a circle with
the word “Bee” inside. Draw two more circles and connect them to the “Bee” circle. Write “Enemies” in one of divisions,and “Kinds” in the other division. Brainstorming can reveal three subdivisions of “Enemies” – “Bears”, “Insects” and “Skunks”How about a poem with a skunk gather honey from a bee hive? Divide all subgroups to your satisfaction. You have a “map” of your ideas. Pick one of these circle and start another web, limiting your topic further. Make a list, anything to get started!

Drafting

    Take all your ideas and concepts and put them in a workable, pliable draft. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. If writing on paper, write on every other line. If using a computer to typesetting device, be sure to read over your  material as you go along, and make corrections in thoughts to make sure everything makes sense However, spelling, punctuation, usage and other mechanics of grammar can be corrected by the machine, or and editor further. In the writing process. If using electronic media, be sure to save your work as you go along, or rewrites become difficult if all your work is lost due  to a sudden power surge.

Revising

    Revising is taking a careful look at your first draft, and to make is
clearer, stronger and more understandable. This means changing words and lines, adding or deleting entire stanzas, keeping in mind your original
purpose of your poem. Technical aspects are considered, too, to create a
style of poem. One way to to this is to read your poem out loud to a friend. This forces you to became the messenger in the communication process, not  the creator, and the listener becomes the reader. Use your friend’s idea to make your poem clearer.
Proofreading

   Proofreading is the technical process to check for spelling, punctuation,
sentence structure, poetry form, and grammar. One poet, E.E. Cummings, did strange things to poetry and punctuation and structure, but this
was done for a purpose.mHe knew how to put a poem together first before  the rules were broken. Use all resources to get the correct word (you already know the power of words), and take advantage of computerized  spelling and grammar checking programs. Built in thesaurus are great  to use, too. Make all changes to your first draft.
    What if your ideas change while you are writing the poem in this
process. Good! Change it. Go back to your prewriting ideas. You may
just want to start all over. That’s okay, but always use the writing
process as you make your changes. A first draft will yield to a second
or third draft before your are satisfied with your final results.
Sometimes, a cooling of period is needed, a week or so, to let your
mind get back to reality. Then go back to your poem with a fresh,
uncluttered mind.

Publishing

    Publishing is your best work. Your final draft. This poem is you,
or at least a tiny part of you. It has your name on it. This is what
people will see when you start the publishing process (see the section
in the web site about how to get published
). At least you have a poem.
Congratulations. Now write another one, and other, and …
   There are those poets who want to keep there work to themselves. That’s  okay too. Not all writing needs to be shared. Your poems can be a sort of diary of your inner thoughts, and the words are meant to kept private.

For more information go to poetry techniques, click here.