One great thing about blogging is that whenever writer’s block strikes — or even writer’s ennui, which is all I think I’m afflicted with at the moment — I can always tinker around under the hood. And since I have more than one blog, that makes for a lot of tinkering! Here’s some of what I’ve been up to lately.
Shadow Cabinet move and redesign
Shadow Cabinet has now followed Spoil off of WordPress.com and onto vianegativa.us. The new address is shadowcabinet.vianegativa.us. I know a few of you link to the collection from your blog sidebars, for which I’m grateful, but please do change the links when you get a chance. For now, I’ve left a page up at the old domain directing people to the new one. Obviously, any links to specific poems, from old blog posts or elsewhere, will no longer work, and I’m afraid you’ll have to visit the site to get the new links, because I’ve changed and simplified the permalink structure. In other words, you can’t just switch the domain part of the URL and expect it to work, because I’ve removed the month-and-day part.
Social media prompts
Ten days after moving onto its new host, Via Negativa continues to enjoy much faster load-times than before, and stats have improved as a result. I’m cautiously introducing a few new plugins, such as Sociable, which generates the icon-links at the foot of each post. I’m trying this instead of the more elegant-looking ShareThis icon, which I’d had before, for two reasons: the code is leaner and thus less of a drag on load-times, and I think having an unobtrusive visual prompt to share content on Twitter, Facebook, and so forth is half the point. I don’t care for clutter, so I’m keeping the list as brief as possible, excluding social bookmarking sites I don’t want traffic from (i.e. Digg) or doubt that my readers use. But if you’re fond of a social media site or bookmarking service I haven’t included, please let me know and I’ll put it in.
New commenting system
I’ve also switched on avatars, to see if I can get used to having them — it’s doubtful. But if you’re wondering how you can get one to appear beside your own name, here and on other WordPress blogs, you have to register with Gravatar (stands for Globally recognized avatar) and remember to put the same email in the comment form each time.
By the way, if you, like me, are on an independently hosted WordPress installation (i.e. using WordPress.org) with a theme that hasn’t yet been updated for 2.7, I found the following tutorials invaluable:
Postal Poetry has turned into a static site
Submissions to Postal Poetry have really dropped off in the last couple of months, and it became obvious to Dana and me that we’d either have to become permanent cheerleaders and devote an increasing amount of time to hassling poets for submissions, or stop publishing new work and convert the site into a static gallery of poetry postcards. After much agonizing and discussion, we chose the latter course. At present we’re continuing to use the same theme with a newly widened archive page pushed to the front, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for other free or affordable WordPress themes that may work better. Permalinks to individual postcards won’t change. The present theme, designed with photobloggers in mind, is hard to beat for simplicity and usability, especially now that we’ve added category links below each postcard.
We hope the postcards on the site will continue to inspire Postal Poetry’s visitors and past contributors, and as we say on the About page, we encourage you to keep experimenting with poetry postcards, sending them to your friends, and posting them on your blogs. We’re proud of the work we’ve published there and grateful to everyone who made cards for the site, whether or not we ended up publishing them. It’s been fun.
I’m continuing to discover great new video poems, mostly on YouTube, for my Moving Poems site. I’m currently feeding it at the rate of a new post every weekday, though I expect that will slow eventually. I’m trying to avoid posting things that could be subject to take-down from YouTube for copyright infringement, because I don’t fancy having empty archives, so there are some slick documentaries that won’t make it in.
Open Micro, the group blog for micropoetry, continues to chug along with a new post or two roughly every day, and some lively discussions in the comment threads. If you haven’t jumped on the Twitter bandwagon yet, and are wondering if there’s any truth to the critiques of Twitter and similar sites as irredeemably shallow outlets for the attention-challenged, I’d encourage you to check out some of Open Micro’s contributors (linked in the foooter). Many of us see the 140-character limit of microblogging as ideal for haiku and other short poetic forms, and haiku is all about paying attention. Or as the editor of Cordite Poetry Review‘s new Haikunaut issue, Issa translator David G. Lanuoe, puts it:
Haiku is a posture, a way of seeing and being, a philosophy of life in which one dedicates one’s self to noticing, not ignoring; to being open, not closed; to discovering, not defining; to inviting meaning onto a page, never imposing it. Poets of haiku peer expectantly into the moments and moods of this universe of which we are part, ready always to be startled, to receive with open eyes the treasures and enigmas that others miss in their hell-bent rush through traffic and life.
That sounds like excellent advice for anyone afflicted with writer’s ennui, as well — blog tinkering be damned.