Current Events, Holy Wild, Muse in Brief, Poetry & Music

Twice As Much Of Whatever We’ve Become

Twitter increased the character limit of tweets this week, from 140 to a whopping 280.

I have no strong opinions on this, honestly — it was an arbitrary limit dictated by earlier technology which spurred creative work-arounds, but the pure 140-character tweet (without pics, gifs or links) has been dead and gone for quite a while now. Some folks think this spells the end of the platform, but I doubt it.

More to the point is everything Twitter isn’t doing, changes users have been begging for a long time: better handling of abuse and hate speech, the removal of neo-nazis and white supremacists, protection from mobs of trolls and harassers.

Carlos Maza covers the complexities of protecting free speech on social media platforms in a recent Vox video.

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In light of these challenges (and Twitter’s inaction in rising to them with any coherent vision of what meaningful conversation might actually look like), bumping up the character limit to 280 seems largely irrelevant. What will we say in 280 characters that we haven’t learned to say in 140?

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Holy Wild, News & Announcements, Poetry & Music

New Poems: Reclaiming the “Tweet” as Modern Haiku

October has turned out to be a pretty busy month for me, publication-wise! I’ve been putting off writing a quick update post for you all, since I don’t want to spam your news feeds and inboxes every time a new piece comes out… but at this point, the procrastination is getting a little bit silly! So for now, here are just a few of my latest poems (with more to come next week, so be sure to swing by and check those out, too!)…

I wanted to group these poems together for a reason, though they’ve appeared in a few different literary journals. They’re all in a poetic form that I’ve been working in recently and that I’ve come to think of as a kind of millennial-haiku (or, for pun-related reasons, I sometimes call a “byte poem”).

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Most Westerns know the haiku as a particularly powerful, condensed form of literary poetry that evokes a Zen-like simplicity in its imagery and language. But before Matsuo Basho, the hands-down greatest haiku poet in history and the man who essentially defined haiku as we now understand it, this poetic form was very different. For hundreds of years before Basho revolutionized the form in the 17th century, the writing of these little poems was basically a party game — a chance for a gathering of poets to show off their wit and word-play by creating long collaborative linked poems (known as renga), often while consuming more than a little sake along the way. The party’s host had the honor of kicking off the game with a three-line verse (called a hokku) to serve as the opening stanza, and would strive to make their opening verse especially striking, provocative and impressive. Eventually these short verses were circulated, read and enjoyed as standalone pieces, and their name was changed from hokku (meaning “presenting verse”) to haiku (“playful verse”).

Then, Basho came along and completely transformed the genre. These days, if you want to write incredibly-short verse and you want even a hope of getting them published in a literary journal, haiku is still your go-to form. Ginsberg took a stab at inventing his own short-form poetic style, called the “American sentence” — a single sentence of seventeen syllables, basically a haiku without line breaks. There are entire literary magazines dedicated to publishing only haiku and American sentences.

Meanwhile, though, something else was going on in American culture: someone created the internet, and someone invented the smart phone, and lo, the Information Age was born. The Age of the Tweet. While literary journals have continued to privilege haiku and American sentences as the very best of short-form poetry, our own homegrown organic short-form poetry party-game was evolving right in our pockets. The 140-character tweet, and the increasingly popular multi-tweet thread, are modern-day American reinventions of the renga and hokku/haiku of Japan — sometimes written by a single person, sometimes a collaborative pile-up of snarky comments, witty retorts and scathing satire snowballing in real-time with the help of catchy hashtags. What began as a fun way to communicate with friends has evolved into a public platform where, in only 140 characters, someone can say something that might change the world.

Enter: the Twit in Chief, who stepped into the Oval Office last November and refused to put down his phone. Now, there is a man who can feed Russian trolls, insult veterans, stoke racial tensions, denigrate women and even potentially start a nuclear war… all in only 140 characters.

As a poet, I find myself both horrified and awed by this demonstrable power of the written word. I wrote recently in a cover letter to Mary-Jane Grandinetti, editor of Shot Glass Journal:

I’ve found myself driven to reclaim the “tweet” medium as a place of power, to re-tune my language so that I might enter into that space and push it as far as I can, push it until it breaks open from the inside.

That is why, since last fall, I’ve been working more and more in the “byte poem” form: 140 characters, short enough to tweet. So far, only a few have been published — in 7×20 this past June, and now this month in Shot Glass Journal and Cuento Magazine.

Not that I claim to be a Basho, or even a Ginsberg, but I hope that, like the haiku, someday the tweet will be remembered for its potential to provoke, to surprise and to transform the world as we know it.

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In addition to the pieces published by Cuento Magazine featured in this post, you can find more of my “byte” poems in the most recent issue of Shot Glass Journal.

Holy Wild, Muse in Brief, Poetry & Music

Dear Editor: A Poem in Four Tweets

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Dear Editor,

Are you okay?
I only ask because
your selections of late
have gone rather grim.
Not an ode to joy
among them,
not one kiss.

Even the poets
have given up
on love songs,
turned instead
to irony, regret,
every bright color
a glossy veil,
an Us Magazine
of sorrows.

Of course
we all die
eventually.
But are you
doing okay
in the meantime?
This morning, my cat
woke himself up snoring,
is all I’m saying.

I wanted you
to know
it’s okay
to love something
unironically,
something small
& furry
& full of himself,
and that
I love you
this way,
too.


This poem first appeared on Twitter. Follow @alileighlilly for more!

Gods Like Mountains, Gods Like Mist, by Alison Leigh Lilly
Muse in Brief

Meme Me…

Hey look, someone on Twitter made a meme out of me! I feel honored! (Does this mean I get to start wearing a “Ask Me About My Meme” button on my lapel?)

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From my post, “Gods Like Mountains, Gods Like Mist.”

Holy Wild, News & Announcements

Meadowsweet & Myrrh is now Holy Wild

I am one of the more sluggish people I know when it comes to big changes, and in the digital age that can mean I’m lagging years behind the latest trends. If you’d asked me a few years ago if I’d ever retire my blog Meadowsweet & Myrrh, I would have said Hell no! And yet, here we are…

Welcome to Holy Wild.

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So maybe a name change isn’t that big a deal. But after a decade of living with that lovingly pesky ampersand dividing/uniting the old and the new, the past and the future, the lingering scent of church incense and the beckoning perfume of the fields… I came to realize that I was no longer living quite so at odds with myself as before. I needed some new name for this sacred little space of mine on the vast interwebz — a name that spoke more wholeheartedly of wholeness. And preferably included a pun.

Ch-ch-ch-changes…

Besides a new name, there are some other cool changes at the blog, the most obvious being a whole new look. (And my thanks to Peter Dybing for encouraging me to find a font big enough to actually read!)

I’ve finally caught up with those trendy types who have “Related Posts” links at the bottom of each new post, and I have to admit part of the fun of writing now is seeing what old blasts-from-the-pasts turn up unexpectedly.

There’s also a handy way to share posts to your favorite social networks using the nifty AddThis bar floating to the right — if you click the orange [+] sign for “More Options,” the list of sites they support is so extensive, you can even still share to MySpace! (Although… why?)

Feed For ALL!

As I mentioned a couple months ago, I began weaning readers off of Feedburner before it, too, goes the way of GReader and the dinosaurs. Now you can subscribe directly to my RSS feed with your favorite feed reader service (I highly recommend giving Feedly* a try — it has lots of options for organizing and displaying your feeds, and the mobile app is as beautiful as it is functional).

If you are subscribed to the old Feedburner feed please take a few seconds right now to update your feed reader to the new RSS feed: https://alisonleighlilly.com/feed.

The old Feedburner feed should continue to update with new posts, at least for now, but Google has ceased providing support for the service and might decide to discontinue it altogether at any time. Who knows? If you subscribe to the new RSS feed then you’ll be sure to keep getting updates no matter what.

Im In Ur Inbox Bringing U Goodies

If you were signed up for the email newsletter through Feedburner, you may have already noticed a change! The new-and-improved Holy Wild newsletter, now supported by MailChimp, will continue to bring you posts delivered right to your inbox. But with the greater flexibility that MailChimp provides, I’ll also be able to include things like early registration deals for online and in-person classes (like my Keystones of the Sacred Land e-Course, back again this spring), as well as coupons and contests for books, like my forthcoming memoir collection, Meadowsweet.

(See how casually I mentioned that my first book will be published soon? I’m totally playing it cool…)

If you’re not already signed up for the Holy Wild newsletter, it’s not too late to get in on the action — it’s as easy as entering your email address below (or you can click here):

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If you’re not ready to take the plunge just yet, no worries. There’s a sign-up form in the blog’s sidebar if you change your mind.

Social Media for Introverts

Before I jump into social media stuff, let me say again that if you want to be sure of never missing an update, the RSS feed and/or the newsletter are the way to go. Subscribing to either of these gives you direct control over what, when and how you get your content — and not just for this blog, but for any writer, blogger, artist, musician or content creator you want to support online. (The experts agree, Facebook kinda sucks when it comes to following blogs.)

Think of it this way: hanging out on Facebook is sort of the virtual equivalent of hanging out at the mall, and relying on Facebook’s news feed for blog updates is like relying on the mall’s radio station to hear your favorite songs. You might hear songs by your favorite artist every once in a while, but you’ll also hear a lot of stuff just because it’s popular, interspersed with plenty of ads. If you really want to hear your very own weirdly eclectic favorites, and support your favorite indie artists, you probably buy the albums you like and make your own playlists. That’s what RSS feed readers and email newsletters let you do.

That said, sometimes it’s wonderful to spend time with friends being social, and it’s pretty cool when your favorite song comes up on the radio and maybe sparks some conversation. So, yep, I’m on Facebook, as well as Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and even Tumblr. In fact, I’ve somehow managed to attract thousands of followers on G+ and Pinterest, which is both crazy and crazy awesome!

So if you want to hang out (and you’re up for some uncensored, shoot-from-the-hip opinions that don’t ever make it onto the blog), look me up! If you’re on G+, you can even sign up to get a notification whenever I share a new blog post, which is practically as good as an RSS feed. Just +1 or leave a comment on this post to join.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a community of thoughtful and enthusiastic Druids and other Celtic-inspired Pagans, check out the G+ Druidry Community that I moderate — we’ve topped 500 members and we’re still growing!

Casualties of Progress

If you’re wondering, so what about the Meadowsweet Commons?, then you’re one of three people who actually used the forums… and I have some sad news for you.

For the rest of you: good news, everyone!

The Meadowsweet Commons was an integrated forum that was originally part of this website when I migrated the blog over from its original home on Blogger. It was meant to be an experiment in community engagement that allowed people to leave comments on blog posts in a shared social space as well as adding posts of their own. The Commons was part of my solution to a troll infestation I was struggling with at the time… and on that front it was wildly successful and basically reduced trolling on my site to practically zero. (Huzzah!)

Otherwise, though, the experiment failed. The integration was always somewhat clumsy and counterintuitive, and updates to the forum plugin soon made it almost impossible to use at all. When the designers decided to make the plugin and support for paying-members only, I decided it was time for the Meadowsweet Commons experiment to end. Unfortunately, there was no way to preserve the old forum without compromising my site’s security, and in the process of updating my software, all of the previous blog comments and forum posts were lost. Such is life sometimes on the ephemeral interwebz…

But now the good news: with the troll infestation fairly well in hand, I’ve returned to the more traditional kind of commenting. You can now leave comments on Holy Wild just as you would on any other blog. (Double-Huzzah!) If you want to know what kind of reader feedback and comments I just adore, check out the comment policy for tips and suggestions.

Thanks for reading!

Wow, this little update ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated. I guess there are some pretty big changes afoot!

As always, thank you so much for reading, and I hope that Holy Wild continues to be a place that provokes contemplation and welcomes conversation for anyone whose life is rooted in the soft soil and sturdy bedrock of an earth-centered spiritual tradition.

Blessings of the holy wild be yours, friends.


*For those of you using Feedly to subscribe to RSS feeds, updating to a new feed can be tricky. Check out this follow-up post for a step-by-step guide on how to find the right feed using your browser address bar: How To Find the Correct RSS URL in Feedly