Sunday, May 23, 2010

My poetry archive: poets.org, IBPC, and getting started with poetry online

In 2003, during one of my sproradic bouts of poetry writing, I decided to look for an online poetry forum. The only one I knew of back then was poets.org, the website of the Academy of American Poets. I signed up, but then discovered the forums weren't active, and forgot all about poets.org — and poetry — for a couple of years. Then suddenly on May 23, 2005 — five years ago today — I received notice that the forums were active again.

There was a mad scramble as all the old members tried to post years of pent-up poems. I looked on with dismay, but the furor died down in a couple of months, and I timidly posted an old poem, which was thoroughly misunderstood. I went on posting old poems and gradually gained confidence. Then in the fall a weekly poem spark was instituted, which I faithfully participated in. One spark was a sestina, and I wrote a rambling one about how I would write a poem if I could find my pencil.

A short time later it occurred to me to try a sestina using the notes of the medieval Gregorian scale — do, re, mi, fa, sol, la — as end syllables in lieu of end words. It was such a departure for me that someone opined, when I posted it, that I must have been smoking pine needles again. Not only was it well received, it was one of three poems chosen to send to the monthly Interboard Poetry Competition — where it won first prize for December, 2005.

Gregorian Sestina was my first publication in a literary venue. The link will also take you to judge-of-the-month Ravi Shankar's comments, below the poem itself.