The Basics of Using the Gutenberg Editor – Part One

This is a RESHARE of a post I wrote last year. I’m including some new information, and the second part of the series follows below. Ask me questions if you are stuck and I’ll try to help. ❤ ~Colleen~

“Gutenberg” is the name of the new editor experience on WordPress. Their goal was to create a new post and page editing experience that makes it easy for anyone to create rich post layouts. I’ve been using the Gutenberg Editor for almost a year now. I thought if I shared some tips and tricks it might help some of you learn how to maneuver this new block style blogging experience. (This is an example of the “highlight” selection. Choose the syntax highlighter code block and input the number of lines you want highlighted.

On December 31, 2021 ( A little over one year from now) WordPress will discontinue the old Classic Editor.

This happened in March 2021! Here is an updated Guide to the Gutenberg editor for 2021.


This prompted a huge discussion in our Literary Diva’s Facebook group last year. I’ll be sharing my experiences with the WordPress Gutenberg editor. Eventually, we all have to succumb to change. I hope I can make your path easier.

The first thing I would like you to do is to create a test blog in WordPress. This should be a free account so you can play with the different settings until you’ve reached your comfort zone.

In your WordPress dashboard:

Go to: My Sites/Switch Sites/Add new Site.

Follow the steps and create your test site. Name it test so you know what it is.

Once you’re created your test blog, choose one of the new themes to use that have been designed for this new editor. WordPress has been adding many new themes. They aren’t as flamboyant as they used to be, but with some tweaks you can standout from the crowd. At some point, WordPress (WP from here on) will ask you which editor to use. Select Gutenberg.

This editor is different from the old editor. Here you work with blocks or paragraphs that are not connected. The layout is simple. Clicking the + to the left of each paragraph gives you different options for your paragraphs.

Once you finish typing a paragraph, hit the enter key. It will move you to the next paragraph. If you want to change that paragraph to a quote, click on the top menu paragraph key to select the pull-down menu. Pick what you want and the editor changes the block.

This is a listing of all the different types of blocks available: https://gogutenberg.com/blocks/

I FOUND AN ARTICLE THAT IS A GREAT REFERENCE ON EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE GUTHEBERG EDITOR: 

https://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/how-to-use-the-new-wordpress-block-editor/

I want to share some tips and tricks I’ve found to be invaluable in maneuvering the changes. (I centered this paragraph with the centering tool on the top menu).

Once you go into WP to create your first post, click the three dots at the end of the top menu at the right. Select the top toolbar position. That will keep all your block and document tools up and out of the way of your blocks. The top menu is easy to maneuver. Click on the different options starting with the paragraph image.

If you learn the keyboard shortcuts, you will maneuver the blocks easily. Below is the canonical list of keyboard shortcuts:

Editor shortcuts #Editor shortcuts

Shortcut descriptionLinux/Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut
Display keyboard shortcuts.Shift+Alt+H⌃⌥H
Save your changes.Ctrl+S⌘S
Undo your last changes.Ctrl+Z⌘Z
Redo your last undo.Ctrl+Shift+Z⇧⌘Z
Show or hide the settings sidebar.Ctrl+Shift+,⇧⌘,
Open the block navigation menu.Shift+Alt+O⌃⌥O
Navigate to a the next part of the editor.Ctrl+`⌃`
Navigate to the previous part of the editor.Ctrl+Shift+`⌃⇧`
Navigate to a the next part of the editor (alternative).Shift+Alt+N⇧⌥N
Navigate to the previous part of the editor (alternative).Shift+Alt+P⇧⌥P
Navigate to the nearest toolbar.Alt+F10⌥F10
Switch between Visual Editor and Code Editor.Ctrl+Shift+Alt+M⇧⌥⌘M

Selection shortcuts #Selection shortcuts

Shortcut descriptionLinux/Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut
Select all text when typing. Press again to select all blocks.Ctrl+A⌘A
Clear selection.EscEsc

Block shortcuts #Block shortcuts

Shortcut descriptionLinux/Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut
Duplicate the selected block(s).Ctrl+Shift+D⇧⌘D
Remove the selected block(s).Shift+Alt+Z⌃⌥Z
Insert a new block before the selected block(s).Ctrl+Alt+T⌥⌘T
Insert a new block after the selected block(s).Ctrl+Alt+Y⌥⌘Y
Change the block type after adding a new paragraph.//

Text formatting #Text formatting

Shortcut descriptionLinux/Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut
Make the selected text bold.Ctrl+B⌘B
Make the selected text italic.Ctrl+I⌘I
Underline the selected text.Ctrl+U⌘U
Convert the selected text into a link.Ctrl+K⌘K
Remove a link.Ctrl+Shift+K⇧⌘K
Add a strikethrough to the selected text.Shift+Alt+D⌃⌥D
Display the selected text in a monospaced font.Shift+Alt+X⌃⌥X

I did a cut and paste on the table from this document: What is Gutenberg WordPress.org

These shortcuts will prove to be a huge help. I use the pink table shortcuts the most!

There are plenty of cool things you can do to highlight text by changing the block text color and the background color from the color settings menu on the right.

Headings or Titles

However

You can’t change the color of the titles, but WP made it easier for you. If you select the paragraph setting, you can select the text settings to enlarge the font size and change its color and background color from the righthand side menu, like I did above with the word, “However.”

The settings on the right-hand side of the editor are for changing the colors and sizes of your text on the blocks. You can even add a drop cap to your writing now! You can also move the blocks around by using the up or down option on the left-hand side of each paragraph.

Most of the themes on WordPress have moved to the block format. I believe there will be many changes in the next few years in themes and plugins all geared to the new editor.

For example, many of the plugins like the “Press This,” plugin won’t work on a business plan or a self-hosted site. Add the Add to Any buttons to make sharing easier. The black WP option will allow my readers to select Press This where they can share my post by inputting the https:// address of their site.

On the premium plan, I added the “Add to Any Chrome Extension” which allows me to share to many social media accounts. By the way, I’m using the new Vivaldi browser, which I really like. Read about this browser here: https://vivaldi.com. This browser allows you to install Chrome extensions.

With all the changes in browsers and blogging platforms, I’m finding the print hard to read on all sites. I found the extension “BeefyText” that makes text bigger and bolder for reading. I love it!

Don’t be afraid to try the new editor. Take a half-hour a day to play around on your test blog. There is a lot of hype out there right now and I admit, I was the most fearful of all. As with all new things, you just have to learn how to use it.

Image Credit: sayingimages.com

After you’ve tried the editor, reply in the comments if you have questions. I’ll try to help as much as I can. ❤

In Part Two, I’ll talk about some of the different blocks.

Don’t let the new WordPress Editor Scare You!

I hope you all found the time to create a test blog where you can experiment and play with the Gutenberg editor basics. Not sure what I’m talking about? Click HERE to read the first post.

I was thrilled to learn that some of you jumped right in and created your test blog so you could experiment with the new editor. When I first started blogging in 2014, the very first blogger to follow me was E.C. Here are her comments from the first post:

Thanks for posting this. This is the first I’d heard of a date they’d plan to end my blogging comfort and joy discontinue the old Classic Editor. Thanks for trying to help make the changes for me and other like me, easier. I really appreciate it. Thanks so much.

Update: I went and made a test blog and tried the new editor.

It’s going to take some time for me to get used to it. But it’s not nearly as scary as I had feared. Thanks for suggesting making a test blog. It’s going to be a huge help in getting me comfortable with the new system.

Thanks again.

E.C. from Joysofcreating.com

The WordPress editor is here to stay, and we must all learn to function in a blogging world filled with blocks of data. Can you do it? Of course you can!

Image by Magic Creative from Pixabay

This week, let’s look at what the blocks represent in a post. I still think of them as paragraphs which may make this discussion easier for you if you also think of them in that way.

Here is the Gutenberg Tutorial HERE!

“The editor comes with a number of standard blocks that can be extended via plugins (but you would have to subscribe to the business plan to install plugins). However, being able to build your own custom solutions is often very useful, which is what this Gutenberg block tutorial will teach you. But first, let’s start with the basics.”

What Are Gutenberg Blocks?

“Before we get to how-to part, let’s first settle on what we are even talking about.

Gutenberg Block Examples

The main change that Gutenberg introduced to content creation in WordPress is that, instead of having one big chunk of content (as it was with the classic editor), web pages are now segmented into smaller parts, called blocks.”

“These can be many different things:

  • Paragraphs
  • Headings
  • Blockquotes
  • Images and galleries
  • Lists
  • Embedded media
  • Buttons
  • Tables
gutenberg block example

Each block has its own content, formatting, and other options and you can move, delete, and reuse them at will.”

Why the Change?

“Why change a running system? Well, the fundamental idea behind the Gutenberg editor is to make the editing experience more flexible and easier to customize, especially for beginner users.

Personally, it takes me longer to create a post than it did before, but we do have some great blocks of data we didn’t have before. However, you can’t highlight text and hit the delete key like we used to do. Now you have to go to the specific block and do control+option+z (for a Mac) Shift+Alt+Z for Windows.

The editor gives you more control over the entire page, not just the main content. You can customize elements in a more detailed fashion and without applying CSS classes to them or other technical hijinks.

Instead, you are able to modify their format, positioning, colors, sizes and much more directly from the user interface.

In addition, blocks in the editor look the same as they do on the page. This makes for a better user experience as the editor view more closely resembles the final product.

The rest of the post deals with creating your own blocks, and that is unnecessary at this point in learning the editor. WP gives us plenty of choices. Read the rest of the post HERE if you want to.

How to Create a Block

Today, go into your test blog and choose the paragraph button where the block selections are located on the toolbar. The blocks you use the most will show up first. Scan through and click on some choices.

When you’re ready to add a block, click on the plus sign at the left of where a new paragraph will start. Select (or search for) a quote block, then type in some data.

Notice at the bottom of the quote that you can show attribution. Type in the site’s address and then highlight the name of where you got the information. Click the link button above in the top toolbar. A menu box will open so you can paste the http://address of the site’s address inside. Select the down arrow at the right of the link box so you can request the link to open outside of your post. Now, you’ve completed the attribution to the quote.

This is a QUOTE block: Learning the Basics of the Gutenberg Editor

colleenchesebro.com

Remember, depending on your theme, your block quote may look different from mine.

Next, type something inside a block and hit the enter key.

Let’s say you created a block and now you want to get rid of it. Click on the three dots on your top toolbar and select remove block.

Another way to do this is by using the shortcut keys: Control, Option Z on a Mac, and Shift Alt Z on Windows. Just make sure you have clicked inside the block you want to remove.

If you want to move the block, hover over the left side of your first word. There are up and down arrows that will assist you in moving the block to where you want it to be on the page.

How to Create a Reusable Block

The colorful divider above is an example of a reusable block. First, I selected an image block. Then, I uploaded the divider image from Pixabay.com as it is free to use for commercial use on my blog.

Once I uploaded the image, I resized it by dragging the right blue dot to my desired width. Next, I clicked on the three dots on the toolbar at the top and chose the add to reusable blocks selection. It will prompt you to name the block so you can find it again later.

Now, whenever you need a colorful divider all you have to do is click the plus sign at the left-hand side of a block. Go into the menu and select reusable blocks. Whatever you named that block will appear. Click to add it to the new block on your post.

The best way to learn this editor is to experiment on your own in your test blog. Give these suggestions a whirl. Let me know you are getting on in the comments.

COLLEEN’S 2020 WEEKLY #TANKA TUESDAY #POETRY CHALLENGE NO. 197, #SPECIFICFORM: Tanka

WELCOME TO TANKA TUESDAY!

It’s the fifth Tuesday of the month! This is our chance to work with a specific syllabic poetry form. So, take this opportunity to learn more about the particular form. You can use any subject, theme, or words to convey your message.

This week’s form is:

TANKA

Here’s a quick review of the tanka form:

TANKA IN ENGLISH: 5/7/5/7/7 or the s/l/s/l/l/ syllable structure. Your Tanka will comprise 5 lines written in the first-person point of view from the perspective of the poet.

When writing a Tanka, we consider the third line your “pivot,” but feel free to let it happen anywhere, or to exclude it. It is not mandatory. If you use a pivot, the meaning should apply to the first two lines, and the last two lines of your Tanka. Remember, we can read great tanka poems both forward and backward.  

  • Your tanka should be filled with poetic passion, including vivid imagery to make up both parts of the poem. The first three lines of the poem consist of one part and should convey a specific theme. The third line of your poem is the often where the pivot occurs, although it can happen anywhere. The pivot gives direction to your poem, whose meaning should apply to the first two lines of your poem, and the last two lines so that your tanka can be read forward and backward.
  • The last two lines of your tanka are where the metaphor (where the poet compare two concepts without the words: like or as), simile (where the poet compares two concepts with words: like or as) or where a comparison occurs to complement the first three lines of your poetry. Use words you are comfortable with from everyday speech. Avoid ending your lines with articles and prepositions.
  • Make use of your five senses. Don’t describe your theme. Instead, use adjectives, or exclamations of sound, taste, and smell, along with hearing and sight to make your tanka powerful.
  • Tanka are untitled (but for this challenge we title them to keep track of our poems on our blog) and should be written in natural language using sentence fragments and phrases, not sentences.
  • While many poets will adhere to the 5/7/5/7/7 structure, there is no rule that says this is written in stone. Remember, tanka poetry is looser in structure than Haiku. Let your creativity guide you. Follow the short/long/short/long/long rhythmic count instead of counting the syllables in the traditional fashion.
  • Tanka poetry does not require punctuation. You don’t have to use capitals at the beginning of each line, nor do you need to add a period at the end.
  • A double tanka is two poems. Three or more tanka poems are a sequence. They are usually linked by a common theme.

Example: 5/7/5/7/7

Autumn gusts signal
an advance in the seasons
change perfumes the air
as if driving acceptance
of the things I cannot change

Notice the first three lines below. We know Autumn gusts signal a change in the seasons.

Autumn gusts signal
an advance in the seasons
change perfumes the air

The PIVOT is: “change perfumes the air.”

Now, take the third line (my pivot) and add the last two lines to the poem:

change perfumes the air
as if driving acceptance
of the things I cannot change

Notice how the last three lines (including the pivot) have a secondary meaning to the first three lines? I also use a simile (as if) which is a figure of speech in which we explicitly compare two unlike things: I compared the smell of change and driving acceptance…, in this example.

*When you write your tanka, split it apart like this and see if both parts make sense. There should be two meanings to your poem when you’re all finished.

Good tanka poems take practice. Keep writing and read how the Japanese masters wrote tanka:

PLEASE support the other poets by visiting blogs and leaving comments. Peer reviews help poets perfect their writing craft. Remember… sharing is caring.

Here are some impressive sites that will help you write your poetry and count syllables

synonyms.com 

This site even has a link so you can install the extension on Google Chrome.

thesaurus.com

For Synonyms and Antonyms. When your word has too many syllables, find one that works.

writerlywords.com/syllables/

A simple yet powerful syllable counter for poems and text which will count the total number of syllables and the number of syllables per line for poems like haikus, limericks, and more. This site does the hard work for you.

I don't get it

THE *NEW* RULES

  • Write a poem using a form of your choice: haiku, senryu, haiga, tanka, gogyohka, haibun, tanka prose, renga, solo-renga, cinquain, and its variations, Etheree, nonet, and shadorma.
  • Post it on your blog.
  • Include a link back to the challenge in your post. (copy the URL: https:// address of this post into your post).
  • Copy your link into the Mr. Linky below (underlined with a hyperlink). You might have to delete your previous entry.
  • Please click the small checkbox on Mr. Linky about data protection.
  • Read and comment on some of your fellow poets’ work.
  • Like and leave a comment below if you choose to do so.

The screenshot below shows what Mr. Linky looks like inside. Add your name, and the URL of your post. Click the box about the privacy policy (It’s blue). As everyone adds their links to Mr. Linky, you can view the other submissions by clicking on the Mr. Linky link on the challenge post. All the links will show in the order of posting.

Follow the schedule listed below:

Don't forget

I will visit your blog, comment, and TWEET your POETRY. 

If you add these hashtags to the post TITLE on your blog (depending on which poetry form you use) your poetry may be viewed more often on Twitter:

#Haiku, #Senryu, #Haiga, #Gogyohka, #Tanka, #TankaProse, #micropoetry, #poetry, #5lines, #Haibun, #Prose, #Renga, #SoloRenga, #CinquainPoetry, #Etheree, #Nonet, #Shadorma

By clicking submit, you agree to share your email address with Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry to receive a weekly blog recap of posts, marketing, updates, and other emails from colleenchesebro.com. It really is the best way to never miss another poetry challenge post again! Use the unsubscribe link in those emails to opt-out.

Now, have fun and write some poetry!


Saddle Up Saloon; TUFF Topics With Charli Mills

Kid and Shorty… I mean Charli Mills, gives the lowdown on Rodeo season at Carrot Ranch… Be on the lookout for more rodeo information coming your way on this blog! Giddy-UP!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Saddle Up Saloon“Kid, seems like yer fine’ly gittin’ yer acts t’gether, even if ya are repeatin’ some a ‘em.”

“Pal, did you know this is the twenty-eighth?”

“Yeah, Kid, I know today’s the twenty-eighth of September. Monday. A new show at the Saddle Up!”

“No, this is our twenty-eighth show since we started the saloon. Kin ya believe it? We’ve had some real fine guests an’ visitors in that time, fer sure.”

“So, Kid, what’s the plan fer this week then? Is there a special guest?”

“Very special.”

“Well?”

“Well, I’m confused, Pal. I have a guest lined up but I ain’t sure if’n it’s Shorty or if’n it’s Charli Mills. How kin I tell the diff’rence?”

“Near’s I kin tell, they’s one an’ the same, both real deal, ‘cept one’s fictional.”

“Oh. Like us.”

“No, not like us. We’re totally made up, but Shorty’s a BORP.”

“Mind yer manners, Pal, say…

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WEEKLY POETRY CHALLENGE STARS | #ThemeChallenge: The Night Sky: Marsha Ingrao

Franci Hoffman from Eugi’s Causerie II selected the theme for us this week. The night sky was her pick, and it generated an amazing amount of poetry. Bravo, everyone. You kept me enthralled all week. ❤

Here’s everyone who joined in this week via Mr. Linky:

1.Padre11.Jules21.Dorinda Duclos
2.s. s.12.Ken Gierke / rivrvlogr22.Kat
3.Reena Saxena13.huwanahoy23.Kerfe Roig
4.anita dawes14.Marsha Ingrao24.Linda Lee Lyberg
5.willowdot2115.Cheryl25.Dolores
6.Kim16.Goutam Dutta26.Merril D. Smith
7.Trent McDonald17.Gwen Plano27.Ruth Scribbles
8.Tina Stewart Brakebill18.Donna Matthews28.Pat R
9.theindieshe19.Jude29.M J Mallon
10.Myforever. blog20.Elizabeth

This week I selected Marsha Ingrao’s haiku sequence (including photographs) to pick next month’s theme.

I found her haiku garland to be really creative as it described different aspects of the night sky. In fact, she used all three haiku forms: 3/5/3, 2/3/2, and the traditional 5/7/5.

Did you know that many journals do not accept haiku written in the 5/7/5 format? I’ve not come across one yet, that does. If you do… Let me know.

Why is that? The reason is the way we count syllables in English compared to how the Japanese count onji (sounds). Modern haijin believes we should have fewer syllables to make our Haiku in English comparable to Japanese Haiku. So, fair warning… if you want your Japanese poetry published in a journal or other literary source, check out a previous edition of the journal first and count the syllables of the winning haiku. That is how you will know.

Congratulations, Marsha Ingrao, it’s your turn to pick the theme for next month’s challenge. Email me your choice at tankatuesdaypoetry@gmail.com before next month’s challenge.

Image by skeeze from Pixabay
Night blooms 
Promised dreams 
Maybe
Daylight slumps and sleeps
Snoring with coyote's call
Signals predators
Mr. Moon
grumpy, sinister
Plots evil
Hides his face 
From tree owls lurking 
On the prowl
City Life
Differs
Lights control
City lights
glamor of the dark
Reflected
Summer nights
Incendiaries
spark the dark

©2020 Marsha Ingrao

source: https://tchistorygal.net/2020/09/22/haiku-the-night-skies-of-elderwood-maui-and-melbourne/

See you tomorrow for the new challenge!

Meet poet and author D. Avery plus review

A marvelous interview with D. Avery and Robbie Cheadle, both excellent poets in their own right. Enjoy! ❤

Writing to be Read

Treasuring Poetry

Today, I am delighted to welcome poet and author D. Avery. Ms Avery is the creator of the fun and well-known characters Kid and Pal who frequent Carrot Ranch Literary Community She also has her own blog where she shares her flash fiction, poetry and other literary endeavours. You can find her blog here: https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com/.

At first I was thrilled to be asked to participate in Treasuring Poetry with Writing to be Read and Robbie Cheadle. Then I read the questions! Too hard! Actually, I misread the questions and was flustered enough to consider who my favorite poet might be, let alone poem.

Robbie’s questions led me down many a rabbit hole, but perhaps not so many as I might have if I were under the same roof as my collection of poetry books. I’m not, so I let my mind travel and recall those shelves…

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#Haibun: Rebirth

Linda shares a poignant haibun which deserves to be part of this week’s weekly poetry challenge stars! Bravo to Linda for fighting the good fight! We’re all right here by your side. ❤

Charmed Chaos

These past few months I have been living in a dazed confusion. Between the Covid 19 virus and insane politics, I have been wandering through a murky forest. But the gut wrencher was being diagnosed with breast cancer in June.
From the moment I first heard the news, this fog engulfed my mind and heart. It’s as if I have been living in an alternate reality.
Now, thirty-two radiation treatments later (with one more remaining), I am beginning to see a sliver of hope shining far off in the distance.
Last night for the first time in months, I walked outside with my little pup into our beautiful back yard. The air is cool and soft on my skin. I look up and there she is ~ the lovely moon still there, waiting for me. Through my tears of gratefulness, I seek solace in her flawless light.

black velvet night…

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2020 CONVERSATIONS WITH COLLEEN: MEET AUTHOR, Geoff Le Pard, @geofflepard

Hello everyone! This week I’m thrilled to bring you a talented British poet, author, and flash fiction Aficionado. I asked him to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE. We all aspire to be successful poets and authors, and the best way to learn some tricks of the trade is to ask questions.

First, please meet my guest, Geoff Le Pard.

Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.

Hi, Colleen. It’s great to get together again for a chat.

I agree. It’s the perfect opportunity to talk about your new poetry book. So, tell me… Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?

My writing career as a poet began in July 2007. I suppose I wrote poetry at school and I’ve made up limericks at times but nothing serious. I started penning poems, following a poetry appreciation course where I studied the greats of English poetry from Chaucer G. to Duffy C-A.

It was inspiring but… one thing you see in poetry, pre the second half of the twentieth century is a focus on form – meter, scan, rhyme. I felt my poetry needed to echo these unwritten rules. I also fell in love with the sonnet which is an extreme example of the rigid form.

When I aspired to pen some serious poems, I determined to comply with these rules. What has improved has been my willingness to move on from these strictures. Let me give you two examples.

In my current book, this sonnet followed Shakespeare’s sonnet (Sonnet 130, William Shakespeare)

Only Skin Deep

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun
Though vodka shots tend to turn them yellow.
She is quite unique, more stun than stunner,
Which some say makes me a lucky fellow.
My tongue, whose form can change to suit all tastes,
From gentle probe to pert, priapic beast,
Becomes a dry and flaccid thing, all chaste,
When suffocated by her doggy breath’s release.
Facial engineers, who can craft Kate Moss
From Quasimodo, turn and run a mile:
I’d give my soul to Satan, bear any loss
If they’d mould Venus from her Cubist smile.
But let’s face it; on me she’s placed a hex:
It’s not her looks that bind us, just the sex.

©2020 "The Sincerest Form of Poetry," by Geoff Le Pard
This book releases 9/30/2020

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

I’ve worked on it over the years and I like it but… It’s very much old school. The rhymes break with the lines and phrases and the meter is consistent throughout. It was a challenge to make it work, and satisfying when I achieved something that fit with the Master’s original.

Gradually I learnt that there is as much joy in subverting the rules as complying, as this one form a couple of years ago shows (it was inspired by my son’s love of moths and a moth trap we inherited from my father that drew him outside every night to see what had come in).

A Life Spared

Cold midnight is like a mask deadening time,
Taking from the senses, dulling compassion.
A slight shadow moves, this night's assassin
Poised to curtail another life. No crime:
This act is almost instinctive. Fear grips
The target, knowing its very existence
Is lightly held. No appeal; resistance
Will be futile. The chance to flee slips
As mind muddies and muscles clench. Drawn taut,
Death's sharpened claws reach out. But they stop short;
This soft murder is edge-balanced so fine.
Hope competes with despair. So thin a line.
The killer's head turns; the prey slips his tweezers.
'Come on inside son. Have some Maltesers.'
 
©2020 "The Sincerest Form of Poetry," by Geoff Le Pard

Here we have a few lines where the rhyme and phrase combine but others where the rhyme is halfway through the phrase. The scan, too, is not easy and takes some reading to make it flow. Today, this is expected.

I’ve now written many poems where there is no scan or rhyme and meter is irrelevant. I hate the expression blank verse because all poetry must have a flow or it’s merely pretentious prose, but that is what it is called.

It took me time to accept that I could write poetry like this – I like structure and the challenges they impose. Breaking that mould has been a constant battle with my instincts.

I totally understand how you feel. That’s why I write syllabic poetry. I hate to break the rules! So, in your opinion, what makes a good poem?

Eventually, I wrote the poem that is in the final poem in the book. For me, it sums up poetry, especially the sonnet, as it is perceived today. Look closely and you’ll see the first half-rhymes in the middle of each line, each of which comprises a complete phrase; the second half doesn’t break at the end of any line, but each line rhymes with its mirror line in the first half. It’s a complete travesty of all sonnet rules, but that’s what I’ve learnt…

Did Geoff Le Pard just say he broke all the rules for writing sonnets?

What Makes A Good Poem?

How do you know when you’ve penned a good poem?
Is better for the use of a metaphor?
What about imagery without simile?
Would it be neater with one simple meter?
Is it a crime to decry a good rhyme?
What part of the plan requires lines to scan?
And could it be worse to write in plain verse?
But when I write, I think it’s perverse
To let the flow slow. You see, I can
Scribble doggerel or craft sublime
Stanzas if left alone. But it’s sweeter
For me if I let my mind wander free
And ignore all conventions. Before
I know it, this poet has his poem.

©2020 The Sincerest Form of Poetry, by Geoff Le Pard
… as the last line has it ‘this poet has his poem’.

Excellent! Geoff, what do you think are some common traps for aspiring writers?

If I focus on poetry then I would suggest there are a few things to think about when writing poetry.

  • 1. Don’t overthink the first draft; poetry is often about emotion, communicating feelings so get those down on paper and worry about how they sound in the edit;
  • 2. Even if you plan on following a form – like me with sonnets – it doesn’t matter if you can’t achieve the meter – classically iambic pentameter – or the rhyme at the outset. As with point number one, get the words down and then work on achieving the structure.
  • 3. You need to work on poetry far more than on prose. Every word must count so, even if you feel satisfied, leave the poem and come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes.
  • 4. Often novice writers, of both prose and poetry want to write but find themselves held back by a perceived lack of confidence in their ideas. If that’s you, then you really just have to write. And if you aren’t sure what to write, take a pad and a pen, or your phone – whatever you like writing on – and go for a walk. Find somewhere to sit and take a few minutes to absorb your surroundings. Then, write down what you see, everything. The tree to your right and its colour, the way it moves or its stillness, the man walking his dog, what’s he looks like, how does he walk. Having written say 20 to 30 lines, take it home and read it through. What is good? What do you like? Take that and then write a ten-line poem from that nugget. Can you bring in some imagery? Can you move away from what you actually saw to what you might have seen? You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll have something you like, maybe even two or three ideas that you can work on. And even if you don’t like any of it, try somewhere else and try again. You’ll soon find something you enjoy.

That’s an excellent plan for writing poetry. What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

Finding time and avoiding distractions. As I don’t earn a living from writing, other priorities interfere with my well laid plans and good intentions. I’m fortunate that I can write pretty much anywhere and don’t need silence or a lack of company to focus.

But I do have a conscience, and that niggles and nags away at me, telling me to walk the dog, write the piece I’ve promised, dig that flowerbed, paint that bedroom… And then there are my other pleasures: watching sport, taking exercise, baking. It can be easy to decide to make bread, create a quiche, do a HIIT session, settle in front of a game of cricket when I’ve told myself that time is for writing. I console myself with the thought that, when I am writing I’m neglecting all those other competing priorities and feeling rather good about it.

The other challenge I face on occasion is finishing a book. I have yet to start any book with even the vaguest idea of how it might end. I have an idea which may or may not have legs, but I will start writing and see where it goes. If I like the flow I carry on, waiting for the ending to occur to me. It will but there have been times when I’ve wondered how I’ll get there…

The hardest thing about poetry has been learning not to force it. With fiction, I can always find an idea and beginning writing, but poetry will come when it comes, and no amount of wishing it will let it start. I’ve tried to trick myself, but I generally find what I then create is like yesterday’s cornflakes.

I agree. You can’t force the oracle to open the creative well when it comes to writing poetry. Now, what would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?

This is where poetry and prose depart. With prose I have so many ideas for stories I’ve stopped writing them down. They just pop into my head when I need them. It means my version of writer’s block is not a lack of ideas or commitment to writing, but finding the elusive ending.

And, refining that slightly further, if offered a prompt it won’t take me long to find an angle that I hope no one else has seen. I am fairly sure that my love of the comedic and surreal writers – Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams to name two – who set their fantasy worlds in familiar territory with subverted elements has helped me think as I imagine they did.

After all, writing is a joy I’ve found late in life and I’m making up for lost time. There’s nothing difficult doing something that I love so much. I suspect I’m lucky that way.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your poetry, more about your newest release, and your poetry writing techniques, Geoff. It’s always fun to hear from other poets.

I’ve read and reviewed, “The Sincerest Form of Poetry.” You can find that review HERE.

More books by Geoff Le Pard:

My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976, the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

In this, the second book in the Harry Spittle Sagas, it’s 1981 and Harry is training to be a solicitor. His private life is a bit of a mess and he’s far from convinced the law is for him. Then an old acquaintance from his hotel days appears demanding Harry write his will. When he dies somewhat mysteriously a few days later and leaves Harry in charge of sorting out his affairs, Harry soon realises this will be no ordinary piece of work. After all, his now deceased client inherited a criminal empire and several people are very interested in what is to become of it.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

The third instalment of the Harry Spittle Sagas moves on the 1987. Harry is now a senior lawyer with a well-regarded City of London firm, aspiring to a partnership. However, one evening Harry finds the head of the Private Client department dead over his desk, in a very compromising situation. The senior partner offers to sort things out, to avoid Harry embarrassment but soon matters take a sinister turn and Harry is fighting for his career, his freedom and eventually his life as he wrestles with dilemma on dilemma. Will Harry save the day? Will he save himself?

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Life in a Grain of Sand is a 30 story anthology covering many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during Nano 2015.

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Salisbury Square is a dark thriller set in present day London where a homeless woman and a Polish man, escaping the police at home, form an unlikely alliance to save themselves.

This is available here

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Buster & Moo is about about two couples and the dog whose ownership passes from one to the other. When the couples meet, via the dog, the previously hidden cracks in their relationships surface and events begin to spiral out of control. If the relationships are to survive there is room for only one hero but who will that be?

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Life in a Flash is a set of super short fiction, flash and micro fiction that should keep you engaged and amused for ages.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Smashwords

Apprenticed To My Mother describes the period after my father died when I thought I was to play the role of dutiful son, while Mum wanted a new, improved version of her husband – a sort of Desmond 2.0. We both had a lot to learn in those five years, with a lot of laughs and a few tears as we went.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Life in a Conversation is an anthology of short and super short fiction that explores connections through humour, speech and everything besides. If you enjoy the funny, the weird and the heart-rending then you’ll be sure to find something here.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

When Martin suggests to Pete and Chris that they spend a week walking, the Cotswolds Way, ostensibly it’s to help Chris overcome the loss of his wife, Diane. Each of them, though, has their own agenda and, as the week progresses, cracks in their friendship widen with unseen and horrifying consequences.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Geoff Le Pard’s Amazon Author Page

How to Connect with the Author

BLOG: geofflepard.com

TWITTER: @geofflepard

Thanks for stopping by to meet Geoff Le Pard. I’ll see you again, real soon!

COLLEEN’S 2020 WEEKLY #TANKA TUESDAY #POETRY CHALLENGE NO. 196, #THEMEPROMPT

WELCOME TO TANKA TUESDAY!

Happy Mabon! Today is the Autumnal Equinox!

It’s the fourth week of the month! Are you ready for a theme prompt? Franci Hoffman, aka Eugi’s Causerie II, from last month’s challenge picked the theme.

This month’s theme is:

The Night Sky

On the Monday before the next challenge, I’ll select a poem and share it on my blog as part of the Weekly Poetry Challenge Stars. Whoever I pick will choose the words for next month’s challenge!

For Colleen’s Weekly Poetry Challenge, you can write your poem in the forms defined on the Poetry Challenge Cheatsheet:

Click HERE to visit the forms to use for this challenge

PLEASE NOTE: I did add the Renga and the Solo Renga forms to the cheatsheet.

Here are some sites that will help you write your poetry and count syllables

synonyms.com 

This site even has a link so you can install the extension on Google Chrome.

thesaurus.com

For Synonyms and Antonyms. When your word has too many syllables, find one that works.

writerlywords.com/syllables/

A simple yet very powerful syllable counter for poems and text which will count the total number of syllables and number of syllable per line for poems like haikus, limericks, and more. This site does the hard work for you.

I don't get it

NEW RULES

  • Write a poem using one of these forms: Haiku, Senryu, Haiga, Tanka, Gogyohka, Haibun, Tanka Prose, Renga, Cinquain and its variations, Etheree, Nonet, and Shadorma.
  • Post it on your blog.
  • Include a link back to the challenge in your post. (copy the https:// address of this post into your post).
  • Copy your link into the Mr. Linky below (underlined with a hyperlink).
  • Please click the small checkbox on Mr. Linky about data protection.
  • Read and comment on some of your fellow poets’ work.
  • Like and leave a comment below if you choose to do so.

The screenshot below shows what Mr. Linky looks like inside. Add your name, and the URL of your post. Click the box about the privacy policy (It’s blue). As everyone adds their links to Mr. Linky, you can view the other submissions by clicking on the Mr. Linky link on the challenge post. All the links will show in the order of posting.

Follow the monthly schedule listed below:

Don't forget

I will visit your blog, comment, and TWEET your POETRY. 

If you add these hashtags to the post TITLE on your blog (depending on which poetry form you use) your poetry may be viewed more often on Twitter:

#Haiku, #Senryu, #Haiga, #Tanka, #Gogyohka, #Haibun, #Tanka Prose, #Renga, #Solo Renga, #CinquainPoetry, #Etheree, #Nonet, #Shadorma, #micropoetry, #poetry, #5lines,

By clicking submit, you agree to share your email address with Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry to receive a weekly blog recap of posts, marketing, updates, and other emails from colleenchesebro.com. It really is the best way to never miss another poetry challenge post again! Use the unsubscribe link in those emails to opt-out.

Now, have fun and write some poetry!


WEEKLY POETRY CHALLENGE STARS | Photo Prompt #195: Trent MacDonald

Lisa Thompson’s photo selection sure set off our imaginations! There was a fabulous amount of poetry and all of it was different. I enjoyed reading and commenting on your poems. ❤

Congratulations to everyone for joining in and writing poetry! Here’s who joined us via Mr. Linky:

1.willowdot21 10.Elizabeth 19.Linda Lee Lyberg 
2.anita dawes 11.Jules 20.kittysverses 
3.Padre 12.D. L. Finn 21.Marsha Ingrao 
4.Kim 13.theindieshe 22.Colleen Chesebro 
5.Trent McDonald 14.Dolores 23.Ruth Scribbles 
6.lisa thomson 15.s. s. 24.M J Mallon 
7.Reena Saxena 16.Donna Matthews 25.Pith & Piffle Poetry
8.Myforever. blog 17.huwanahoy   
9.Cheryl 18.Goutam Dutta   

I called this challenge Ekphrastic, because it explores writing inspired by visual art (photographs). What this means is that we use the photo to inspire our poetry.

When you use a photo for inspiration you should ask yourself questions about the photo. What does it remind you of? What is it? It’s your perceptions that matter when you write your poem.

For example, a toadstool reminds me of magic! To someone else, it could represent poison, or the evils in the world. Your poetry should speak to some sort of connection (or experience) you had with the art work. Brainstorm ideas and write them down. Use those initial responses to craft your poetry.

Remember the Japanese Poetry forms have definite rules to follow when you choose those syllabic forms: haiku, senryu, haiga, tanka, gogyohka, haibun, and tanka prose. Refer to the poetry cheatsheet HERE if you are not sure of the rules. Some of these forms are difficult but don’t let that hold you back. Keep practicing. That’s how we learn and get better.

The American syllabic versions: cinquain, and cinquain variations, Etheree, nonet, and shadorma have much looser rules to follow, but nevertheless, they also have rules. The cheat sheet is the best way to go.

This week I selected Trent McDonald’s haiku. He explored the three haiku forms: traditional (5/7/5), current (3/5/3), and the shorter of the current (2/3/2). When you write haiku, you don’t have to write your poem in all three of these forms. We sometimes do it for this challenge as a way to show the evolution of syllables compared to the traditional vs. the more current versions. It shows how easy it is to write a shorter form version of a haiku.

Remember, the shorter syllable forms (s/l/s) are usually what poetry journals are looking for. This is because they believe the shorter forms most closely match the Japanese forms. It all has to do with sounds in Japanese. vs. English. The Haiku in English form (5/7/5) is much longer than the Japanese ever intended the haiku to be written.

Congratulations, Trent McDonald, its your turn to pick the photo for next month’s Photo Prompt Ekphrastic challenge. Please Email me your choice at tankatuesdaypoetry@gmail.com before next month’s challenge.

a bit of fungus
a tower in fairyland
both visions are true

-or-

fungus rot
fairyland tower
point of view

-or-

fungus
fairyland
toadstool

©2020 Trent McDonald

source: https://trentsworldblog.wordpress.com/2020/09/15/toadstool-haiku/

See you tomorrow for the new challenge!

COLLEEN’S 2020 WEEKLY #TANKA TUESDAY #POETRY CHALLENGE NO. 195 #EKPHRASTIC #PHOTOPROMPT

WELCOME TO TANKA TUESDAY!

It’s the third week of the month! Time for an Ekphrastic #PhotoPrompt

This challenge explores Ekphrastic writing inspired by visual art (photographs). Lisa Thompson, from last month’s challenge, has provided the photo for this month’s challenge:

Image credit: Unsplash, and the photographer is Wolfgang Hasselmann

On the Monday before the next challenge, I will pick a poem from this week’s challenge and share it on my blog. Whoever I pick will choose the photo for next month’s challenge! Email your selection to me at tankatuesdaypoetry@gmail.com a week before the challenge. Please include the photo credit and the link to the photographer. Thank you!

For Colleen’s Weekly Poetry Challenge, you can write your poem in the forms defined on the Poetry Challenge Cheatsheet (click the link below):

Click HERE

Here are some impressive sites that will help you write your poetry and count syllables:

writerlywords.com/syllables/

A simple yet powerful syllable counter for poems and text which will count the total number of syllables and number of syllable per line for poems like haikus, limericks, and more.

synonyms.com 

This site even has a link so you can install the extension on Google Chrome.

thesaurus.com

For Synonyms and Antonyms. When your word has too many syllables, find one that works.

I don't get it

THE *NEW* RULES

  • Write a poem using a form of your choice: Haiku, Senryu, Haiga, Tanka, Gogyohka, Haibun, Tanka Prose, Cinquain, and its variations, Etheree, Nonet, and Shadorma.
  • Post it on your blog.
  • Include a link back to the challenge in your post. (copy the https:// address of this post into your post).
  • Copy your link into the Mr. Linky below (underlined with a hyperlink).
  • Please click the small checkbox on Mr. Linky about data protection.
  • Read and comment on some of your fellow poets’ work.
  • Like and leave a comment below if you choose to do so.

The screenshot below shows what Mr. Linky looks like inside. Add your name, and the URL of your post. Click the box about the privacy policy (It’s blue). As everyone adds their links to Mr. Linky, you can view the other submissions by clicking on the Mr. Linky link on the challenge post. All the links will show in the order of posting.

Follow the schedule listed below:

Don't forget

I will visit your blog, comment, and TWEET your POETRY. 

If you add these hashtags to the post TITLE on your blog (depending on which poetry form you use) your poetry may be viewed more often on Twitter:

#Haiku, #Senryu, #Haiga, #Gogyohka, #Tanka, #TankaProse, #micropoetry, #poetry, #5lines, #Haibun, #Prose, #CinquainPoetry, #Etheree, #Nonet, #Shadorma

Are you missing my poetry challenge posts? Search for me in the WordPress Reader or…

Subscribe to my Weekly Blog Update Email. By clicking submit, you agree to share your email address with Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry to receive marketing, updates, and other emails from colleenchesebro.com. Use the unsubscribe link in those emails to opt out.

So, who wants to have fun and write some poetry?