#Micropoetry Monday: Social Media

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She pined for the days
when people were more sophisticated
than their technology,
yet she loved the technology
that allowed her to watch the movies made
during those days before
that technology had come to be.

Because she gave respect
without it having to be earned first,
she found that she often received it.
When someone lost her respect,
she did not disrespect them,
but rather,
left them to their own electronic devices.

She scrolled down her friend list,
unfriending those she had never known,
but who had been watching her life
more than she ever knew.

Sweet Little Nothings

Start a game of tag with your friends

Jill, Kelly, & Sabrina–
Charlie’s braless angels &
Bosley’s femme fatales–
found themselves 40 years in the future
where they were doubly appreciated,
for everything old had become new again.
When each gal spotted the man they believed
to be the enigmatic Charlie,
they scattered to follow him,
tagging themselves on Facebook
& checking themselves in at random places
to find one another again.
When they reconnected,
they found not the time machine
that had brought them there
but saw,
in themselves,
the time capsule they were.

15 More Things I’ve Learned (so far) as Editor-in-Chief of the Student Newspaper

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Collaborations can be cluster!@#$s. Just as too many chefs spoil the stock, too many writers (not editors) can be confusing. It is better to give a cub (i.e. newbie) a small feature that requires little writing and have someone mentor them than have them share a bigger story that is perfectly capable of being done by one seasoned reporter. My job is to get the paper out, however I can make that happen.  Plus, who the hell wants to share a byline?

Create a mock layout for your layout editor. It serves the same purpose as the outline of a story and will make their job much easier.

Sticking to deadlines will help separate the wheat from the chaff.

If you love to create and tell your own story, you’re a writer; if you love to gather data and tell the stories of others, you’re a reporter.

Don’t contribute to “fake news” by giving people credit who did not contribute to the final product or service; contribution can be as small as editing a story, selling an ad, or even delivering newspapers. Coming to meetings does not count. (We don’t get paid for coming to them.)

AP (Associated Press) style needs to adopt the Oxford comma for clarity.

E-mail to set up a time to do interviews, not conduct them. Giving people too much time to think about what to say takes away from the immediacy.

The newspaper is not a newsletter (i.e. lists of names, calendar of events, et cetera). It should tell stories with words and pictures (which is why captions should accompany all photos).

In the Arts and Entertainment section, covering actual events on campus, like plays and concerts, are far preferable to reviews about random things. Reviews don’t require any legwork, and the Internet is flooded with them. A humor or opinion piece that ties in to the school is much preferred.

Group shots are unavoidable; action shots are preferable. The former says, “We were there”; the latter says, “We were there doing this.”

Steal from your competitors, then elevate what they have done. For example, a competitor that shall remain nameless has a page called “The Briefs.” We upgraded ours to “Pirate Briefs” (the pirate is our mascot)—a photo collage of unrelated events (with captions, of course).

Give your photos a name, so they’ll be easier to find (no IMG_2020).

A few of us conducted a poll/survey of at least 75 students (100 is optimal, but hey, we’re short-staffed) for an infographic. We could’ve just included boring statistics, but we decided to humanize our findings by including student comments. This is a fantastic way to get student names in the paper (btw, headshots NEVER belong in an infographic), because don’t many of us, when reading a controversial blog post, go straight to the comments section? (After reading the original post, of course.) What’s more, when we conducted these polls, many of us asked professors’ permission to use a few minutes of class time to get a bunch of these surveys filled out at once. That said, in the interest of a diverse pool of respondents, we only did this in classes where the course was a general requirement, or where all the majors weren’t just English or healthcare or cybersecurity. (In other words, don’t get a bulk of responses from a poetry or creative writing class.)

If your newspaper has a Facebook page (if it doesn’t, get it one), you probably won’t have enough content to post daily, but if you have archives that aren’t available online, repost covers, stories, et cetera, that tie in to current events (if possible). This is a great way to utilize content that is otherwise sitting in a storeroom. https://www.facebook.com/eCorsair/

Create a reference book (both physical and digital) for the next Editor-in-Chief, with the newspaper email and passcode, ad brochures and contracts, How-To’s (i.e. screenshot tutorials on how to upload PDFs to the site), et cetera. This will help with a smooth transition. 

Sweet Little Nothings

Like someone in person

He’d been a friend of a friend,
till she wasn’t friends with that friend anymore.
She’d liked what he’d collectively share
with 149 other friends,
family,
& acquaintances.
When she finally met him,
keeping her identity secret,
she shared all that he couldn’t touch
through a screen.
“You remind me of someone,” he’d said,
& she knew then
what he would’ve never told her
anywhere else,
for with the 1 sense he knew & liked,
she had put a face with the other 4 he loved.

Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: On Journaling

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Journaling is the purest, rawest form of writing.

If you don’t like the idea of a diary, create a journal for a fictional character. Get to know them, then write your story.

Live to live, not to record. Never let the magic of the moment be lost because you were too busy writing it all down.

I’m a scrapbooking collagist when it comes to journaling, meaning heavy on the photography & “graphic design,” & light on the writing. I’ve included newspaper clippings, greeting cards, event programs, badges (for example, my college press pass), & many more.

Always have a notebook (& pen) nearby: on the nightstand, in the glove compartment, in your purse/murse, etc. Ideas often come at the most inopportune times. It’s easier to keep up with several books rather than having to remember to always carry the same one around with you (unlike a cell phone).

Have a “theme” journal. Joe Brainerd did an “I remember” theme. https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/joe-brainard-i-remember. I am doing a “Precious Moments” book for my daughter. Other ideas would be “What if?” (my favorite poetry subject), “If only,” &, in the spirit of Tom T. Hall, “I Love.”

Start a reading journal (this is best for poetry). Unlike a book review, which analyzes the text with a critical eye, a poetry reading journal is about what the text means to you.
Journaling isn’t just about the product, but the process. If you focus too much on the product, you’re editing, not writing.

In the Irish film, The Secret Scripture, the main character has a Bible in which she keeps her journal, writing in between the lines, in the margins, et cetera. You can do this with any book that profoundly affects you.

Though there’s something intrinsically beautiful about a handwritten journal, don’t feel you have to write your journal by hand. (Better to keep a digital journal than no journal.) There are many journaling apps online. Think about it. Most of already journal every day, whether it be through Facebook, Instagram, our Shutterfly Share site, WordPress blog, etc., though hopefully, we’re not posting our deepest, darkest thoughts—that should be between you & your journal, whether on paper or paperless.

 

The Last Leaf

Navy mom

Betty Ann Booker: Apr. 23, 1953-Mar 6, 2018

I’ve always considered myself the unofficial family historian (my parents the genealogists). Documenting the lives of those I love has always been my way of honoring their memory.

Last night, my mom passed away following complications of pneumonia, which she contracted from a cracked rib she sustained in a car accident a month ago.

I am thirty-six years old, and still too young to lose my mom. My daughter is four, and too young to lose her grandma. I can’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t my mom’s time to go; the suddenness of it all makes it feel that way—the fact that I didn’t get a chance to say good-bye because I didn’t know the last time would be the last time.

 

My mom was a survivor, having beat breast cancer twice. The second time she told me she had it, I was distraught, for how often did lighting strike twice in the same place?

This time, when I found out she had a fractured rib, I thought, broken bones heal.

When I found out she had double pneumonia, I thought, Dad beat that (complete with a blood clot on his lung) seven years ago.

It wasn’t until she took her last breath in hospice that I accepted she was truly gone, after having pleaded with her to wake up, but she had already lapsed into a coma.

The same doctor who had saved my dad’s life seven years ago hadn’t been able to save hers.

 

Before she passed away, while she was still in ICU, I was able to read her a story—Many Moons, by James Thurber, my favorite children’s book (she liked it, too)—about a girl named Princess Lenore who asks her father for the moon to make her well. I’d thought about reading Small Town Girl, by LaVyrle Spencer—one of our favorite novels—but maybe, in my own way, I didn’t want to start what I didn’t believe I would finish.

 

I am so grateful for technology—that I was able to play my daughter’s laugh from a handful of videos I had uploaded to Facebook. I even sang Amazing Grace to her (with no one close enough to hear me, of course)—all things I have done with my daughter, who loves to laugh at herself.

My mom has always considered a sense of humor a vital character trait, and I like to think I get a little bit of that from her. I have learned that having one has nothing to do with your ability to laugh at something funny, but everything to do with being able to laugh at yourself.

I told her that I loved her, and to say hi to some people for me; I told her that I appreciated her more than she ever knew.

The last thing I did was play her favorite song (or one of them)—Saginaw, Michigan, by Lefty Frizzell. It didn’t even finish before she had gone.

I was told by one of the nurses that the hearing was the last to go, and so I am glad she was able to hear her granddaughter—the one she nicknamed Hannah Banana—one last time.

I remember thinking, Gee, I hope you were this glad when I was born! But every mother should want their mother to love their child so much.

 

Time with Mom while she was in the hospital became like silver, if all the silver in the world had been mined. It became as precious as life itself.

I am so sad there won’t be any more memories to be made with her, but I showed a picture of her to my daughter and asked her who she was. She immediately said “Grandma!” and when I asked her what Grandma did with her, she said, “Build an ark/arch!”

Whenever Grandma came over, Hannah would bring the blocks and Grandma would build with her.

I will show my daughter that picture every day and ask her who she is, and what she did with her, so that there won’t be a time Hannah won’t remember her.

 

Technology has taken over our lives, so I’ve always tried to live “in the moment,” and then write in retrospect, but I say to anyone who will listen—take more pictures, shoot more video. My brother’s girlfriend shot this past Christmas, and there is Mom, just a couple of months ago, hamming it up.

That, that was who she was.

My brother played some voicemails she left on his phone, which he will save forever—voicemails which I have asked him to send to me, because the fear that I may forget her voice makes me incredibly sad.

For now, I am trying to piece together a thousand little memories; every scrap of paper with her face on it has become priceless.

But she left behind so much more than memories—she taught me how to be a good person by being a good person. At the time of her accident, she was on her way to help a family member in need.

I will miss her, but not forever, because she is in the forever—that forever she taught me about–so that I could find some measure of peace amidst the seemingly insurmountable grief I am experiencing now.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #414: Connection

Broken Connections

She kept him alive for the world,
breathing through machines.
Through his cell phone she did this,
texting his friends and family
in that language of his she knew so well,
posting on his Facebook account,
Photoshopping and age-progressing his pictures,
crafting the narrative of the life he’d wanted to continue living,
so that people continued to wish him a “Happy Birthday,”
long after he’d had his last.

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 414