Kate Tempest – End Times

There are some spoken word artists who absolutely stun you with their performance. Kate Tempest is one on those artists.

Her presence is pure emotion when she is on stage and her words pierce your soul and intertwine with your emotions as she speaks. Amazing.

Listen to her poem “End Times” in this video and tell me what you think.

I found this video over at Viral Verse –another great site for quality poetry videos. Be sure to stop by, check out their videos, and subscribe!

Despite Death Threats, Poet Hissa Hilal Speaks for the Silent

Saudi Arabian poet Hissa Hilal recently took part in a poetry competition for an Abu Dhabi TV show called “Million’s Poet“. The name comes from the fact that the top poet receives a one million dollar prize. I could go into a five paragraph post on that alone, and perhaps I will eventually, but the most remarkable part of this story is that she performed at all.

Hissa received death threats as the result of her appearances on the show and for the words she spoke. She didn’t just speak poems of love and nature, but she chose the opportunity to speak about issues of women’s equality in a region where the phrase is scoffed at and demeaned. Her courage in this competition earned her and the women of the region more than that one million dollars could have ever purchased.

Every time we speak out what we as poets believe, we speak for those who have the same thoughts and words, but don’t have the means to share them. We have our open mics, blogs, podcasts, books, and magazines to speak truth as we know it. We have the opportunity to reach more people than some will ever reach in their entire lives.

Embrace that, poet.

Here’s a video from ABC Nightly News where Hissa Hilal is featured as the Person of the Week. I hope it inspires you.

Here’s an article from ABC as well, in case the video is regionalized by ABC: Person of the Week: Poet Hissa Hilal

Moving Poems – A Great Web Site for Good Poetry Videos

I recently wrote a post about the lack of good video poetry available to viewers and how we sometimes have to search through multiple videos before we actually find a good one.  Well, poet Dave Bonta of Moving Poems has done most of the hard work for you.

Moving Poems scours the web for great examples of poetry put to video and video worked around poetry. Dave decided to start the site “in part to learn how to make better video poetry”.

What I like best about the site is that he doesn’t just post the video, but he gives good insight on why he likes it and even interesting tidbits about the video.

A good example is the information he provided about a couple of Walt Whitman poems that were recently featured in televised advertisements here in the states. I had seen the Levis commercial featuring “Pioneers! O Pioneers”, but wasn’t aware of all the discussion taking place about it on the web and media. I definitely recommend taking a look at the full article.

Here is the Levis ad that was mentioned:

Let me know if you come across a good video that you think others here would enjoy. I’d love to share it!

Let me know in the comments or via Twitter!

Hello Poetry – Web Site Review

Hello PoetryCloudy Day Art listener Paul Badger recently turned me on to a relatively new poetry community site called Hello Poetry.

I’ve seen my share of sites that prompted poets to come online, share their poetry, and interact amongst the community. Some have been good and some have been bad. What separates the good from the bad, in my opinion, comes down to how the site founder handles a small set of criteria (in top of my head order):

  • Site design
  • Community involvement
  • Showcasing poems and poets
  • Providing incentives to poets to comment on other’s poetry

Hello Poetry does a great job in all these areas. Lets hit each of these specifically to explain further.

Site Design

I know. This can’t be the most important thing to look at when reviewing a poetry site. But it is very important. You consciously evaluate whether a web site is good or bad with the first few seconds of the home page loading. It’s a fact.

The web design crew at Hello Poetry have succeeded in creating a beautifully minimalist web design devoid of heavy graphics, banner ads, and the gaudy colors that we see on many poetry community sites (I’m guilty at times, too). The first thing you see center page is a short description of the site with an immediate call to action to read a featured, random poem. Nice.

Community Involvement

Click on the “Community” link at the top of the page and you are taken to a page split into a few different sections:

  • “Suggested Poems”: Featuring two poems from users (not sure how those are chose)
  • “Poems by recent interest“: Appears to use recent comments and views to showcase
  • “Members most active this week“: A list of hyperlinked poet names. You can click the poet’s name to go to their profile page which contains a great deal of info about him or her:
    • Short bio
    • Newest poems
    • Top poems
    • Words used ~ Shows, in tag cloud format, the most used words by the particular poet. Cool! This is helpful for the poet and for the reader to gauge the basic mood of the poet’s writings
    • Groups they are a member of
    • A poet Q&A created that is pulled from questions that the poet chooses to answer in the “Discussions” area of the site.

All these areas practically beg the reader to explore, comment, and contribute to the site without being too overbearing.

Shocasing Poems and Poets

Hello Poetry has enabled an automatic background process they call “Exposure” to promote poets and poets throughout the site. Here’s how they define it on a recent blog post:

Keep in mind that even though exposure is now handled automatically, the same ideas apply as before. Your work will be exposed more often if you read and give thoughtful reactions to poems, and do other positive interactions on Hello Poetry. This keeps everyone on a level playing field and gives something in return to those contributing the most to the community.

So, the more you are involved in the site, the greater your chance of poetry being exposed. I have read discussions both pro and con of this technique, but it seems to work overall.

Providing Incentives to Poets to Comment on Other’s Poetry

This goes hand in hand with their “Exposure” algorithm. That along with creating a very good user experience and generally open and encouraging community of poetry lovers, seems to be keeping the site updated with fresh and interesting reading.

I do have some concerns as the discussion forum that I thought was there a month or so ago seems to have disappeared. This could be because the creators thought it took away from the pure poetry aspect or because of some of the grumblings I saw as some of the new features were being implemented. Or both.

All in all, I would recommend Hello Poetry to poets as a place to share their poetry and to read and encourage other poets.

I’m listed there. I only have one poem up, but I hope to increase that soon.

What do you think about Hello Poetry?

Blackout Poet – Video

I came across this video while doing one of my periodic searches for poetry on Twitter. Poet Austin Kleon came up with a creative way to pen poetry.

He takes an article from a newspaper, looks for key words that inspire him, then blacks out all the rest. It’s a different take on those magnetic poetry or refrigerator poetry kits you can by online, but it is a cool idea none the less. He’s also releasing a book of poetry based on his creations. Check out this video report:

I could see this as a great exercise to try when you think you are running into a creative brick wall.  The words are already written for you. You just have to get rid of the unnecessary ones.

Creating Your Own Spotlight

SpotlightToday The Huffington Post posted an article titled “National Poetry Month: Breeding Hyperlinks Out of the Dead Land” by Travis Nichols. Travis begins the article talking about how newspapers and sites across the internet are “shining a spotlight on the art form they normally ignore, mangle, or treat with derision”.

This is a very true statement, though spoken partially in jest.  In fact, this is somewhat what I’m doing here at Cloudy Day Art. Posting 30 blog post over 30 days. I don’t think I’ve written thirty blog posts on this site over the five years of it’s existence!

But is that so wrong?  I would rather have mainstream media cover poetry and its associated events this one time of year than not at all.

It is our jobs as poetry bloggers, podcasters, and journalists to keep the art in the minds of our listeners and readers the other 335 days. Some say that we don’t have the large outreach that a USA Today has, but collectively we can reach millions by sharing one verse with your friends on Facebook. By sharing on link to a spoken word performance to your followers on Twitter. By sharing one podcast with your listeners.

Thirty days isn’t much time for poetry to be in the spotlight. Let’s show them how we do it.

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"AmeriKa" by RaD aka Ryanaustin Dennis – Video

I love a good poetry or spoken word video.  You have to search through so much to find a real gem.  Let me be clear, there are thousands of great poems being recorded to video out there, but very few great poems with great video.

I present to you today, a decent poem being performed on great video.  AmeriKa by RaD (aka Ryanaustin Dennis) is a typical angry-at-America poem shot beautifully and artistically by Christopher George for his Senior Graphic Design Thesis.

I’m hoping to see more poets team up with video artists to create the visual art we need.

*Caution: the following video contains strong language and visuals that my be offensive to some*

What are your thoughts on the current state and future of video poetry?

Share them in the comments.

Five of the Best iPad Apps for Poets and Writers

Five iPad Apps

INTRODUCING “WRITING TYPE”The Best Writing App for Windows 8! Find out more here.

Today is launch day for the “magical” device known as the iPad.  Hundreds of thousands of Apple fanboys and girls, techies and geeks, and normal everyday people are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their new wonderful toy.

Being a gadget freak myself, I thought about and pondered how I could possibly justify purchasing an iPad for myself. In my household we have an iMac, a laptop, and a netbook. All the bases are covered! I’m still pleading my case with my wife…

Until then, I decided to peruse the iTunes App Store to see what apps are available today on the iPad for all you poets and writers who made the jump. I know of two of my fellow poetry podcasters who are planning on it.

Let’s get started. [Read more…]

The Slam Idol Podcast Celebrates 5 Years of Poetry!

Slam Idol PodcastCongratulations to Simon from Slam Idol! Yesterday, April 1st, he celebrated 5 years of producing The Slam Idol Podcast. The longest running and most consistent poetry podcast ever.

As you can tell by searching this site, I’ve been a big fan all this time.

Many poetry related podcasts came on the scene after his 2005 debut with big dreams and aspirations–I was one of them. I have seen many come and go. Some of them I missed.

So, what was the secret in the success of Slam Idol? Simplicity. A simple concept. A great idea that rose above the technology. Too many of us poetry podcasters were more focused on the tools rather than the art we were supposed to be representing.

The main focus of those of us with this gift, this ability to take a poem that very few have ever heard and share it with hundreds of people from around the world, should be remembered in its simplest form.


Don’t worry about getting the best microphone. Don’t worry about having the nicest looking blog. Don’t worry about monetizing the art.

Just share.

That’s what Simon did so well. He consistently put the poet before the technology. He then followed that with the slow tweaking of the medium.

Before he purchased his own hosting he was at SlamIdol.tripod.com (free). Then he bought his own domain name, SlamIdolPodcast.com, which he hosted at GoDaddy for free as well I believe. Eventually he moved over to Podshow, now Mevio, and now is hosting his site on a full domain. All over the course of five years.

All this while, rather than constantly playing with the tech, he shared. Poets from around the world received listens and votes from poetry lovers from around the world.

Well done, Simon!

Simon is taking a bold step and totally revamping what Slam Idol is be begetting the Slam Stream. If you haven’t followed his discussion listen to Slam Idol #297 and my interview with him to hear where he’s going.

It has that same feel of the early Slam Idol experience for me. A new experience in waters where few have tread before.

I’m going for a swim. How about you?

It's National Poetry Month! Bring on NaPoWriMo 2010!

National Poetry Month PosterIt’s the first day of April 2010! Which means it’s the first day of National Poetry Month here in the United States and Canada.

National Poetry Month was started by The Academy of American Poets in 1996 and has been gaining popularity ever since.  Each year poets around the country, and world in this connected age, find new ways to celebrate poetry and increase it’s visibility.

One of my favorite celebrations is the challenging and humbling National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) started in 2003 by poet and blogger Maureen Thorson. I’ve participated in the past and some of my favorite writings have come from the experience. Some days the words flow easily from the pen and other days you must carve them out of your soul with a chisel and a sledgehammer, but the experience is a beautiful one. You emerge from the process like an ancient warrior emerging from the wilderness after a thirty-day rite of passage.

Check out Maureen’s NaPoWriMo site if you would like to join in and have your poem site listed for NaPoWriMo 2010 if you so choose. In fact, you don’t have to post online at all. You can simply join the challenge by making a vow to yourself to write one poem a day for the month. No pressure!

For an even greater challenge, the folks over at Read Write Poem have a very in-depth challenge where many of the poets have the chance to have their April writings featured in a published anthology.

If you simply want to enjoy the poetry, I recommend doing a search for NaPoWriMo or #NaPoWriMo on Twitter whenever you get a spare moment. Many poets are already tweeting out links to their writings using the #NaPoWriMo hashtag. I often look for new poetry to read by searching for the #poetry hashtag.

Are you participating in NaPoWriMo this year? Post a link in the comments and I’ll be sure to check out your poems and may even link to the ones I really like that I come across!

Have fun!

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