Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Serena Agusto- Cox: Savvy Verse & Wit

Today we have member Serena Agusto-Cox discussing her incredible--and influential--blog Savvy Verse & Wit. I've known Serena for a couple years now. Few people work has hard as Serena, and I'm delighted she agreed to find the time to discuss her blog here on FPP. Here she is.

Savvy Verse & Wit began as a space through which I could record the memorable poems I found in various literary journals and what I thought about those poems. The name of the blog reflects just a portion of what I wanted to share with readers, though for a long time I only had one reader who commented regularly. My first post was about a poem called "Spoons, An Appreciation” by Tim Barnes. The poem was so inventive, particularly the lines “but to spoon is to make love, cuddle together” and “but spoons are the shapes of breasts and buttocks.”

I never set out to have a book review blog online, but that’s how it has evolved over the last four years. While I probably have an estimated 500 faithful subscribers, I couldn’t tell you how many hits each post receives or how many times each post is shared through social media. I primarily use those tools to spread the word through automatic updates when new blog posts are posted, but with my new Savvy Verse & Wit Facebook page, I’ve found that I can offer my readers quick updates regarding local events, online gatherings and chats, and giveaways. The page also is a great place for discussion, allowing me to converse with my readers on a more personal level rather than simply discussing my latest review or author interview on the blog.

Building a following takes a lot of effort, mostly through commenting on other blogs, interacting with the online community of other book bloggers/reviewers, and spreading the word via Twitter and other social mediums – which takes a lot of time and requires dedication. I’ve gone through spurts of using these methods all of the time to not at all, but mostly I’ve found a balance that works for me and that ensures that reviewing books will remain a fun expression of my ideas without making it feel like work.

But I’m most proud of the work I’ve done to promote poetry and poets, who unfortunately are not as well publicized by their publishers or media gurus and whose work – in my humble opinion -- should not be ignored. I’ve read poetry for its economy of words, the images, and the larger concepts hidden within for as long as I can remember. But it wasn’t until I read Molly Peacock's How to Read a Poem and Start a Poetry Circle that I wanted to create an online space in which readers and I could discuss a posted poem once per week – The Virtual Poetry Circle was born. The circle is meant to be low-key, allowing readers to select images that strike a chord with them or lines they want to discuss because they think they know the meaning or what to hear what others think, which is why I selected Saturday as the day for these “meetings.” I’ve hosted more than 100 of these gatherings since the Virtual Poetry Circle started, and I’d like to think of myself as a crusader for the good of poetry. Like fiction, nonfiction, and other genres, poetry has something to offer everyone, and I hope that I can have even a small part –through Savvy Verse & Wit and other ways -- in shining the light on a genre that continues to thrive.

Serena Agusto-Cox is a Bachelor of Arts graduate of Suffolk University in Boston, still interested in the nuances of politics and the interplay of words on a page to create vivid imagery, convey meaning, and interpret the world. She has moved from the sticks of small town Massachusetts to the outskirts of Washington, D.C. where she writes more vigorously than she did in her college seminars. Her poems can be read in issues of Beginnings Magazine, LYNX, Muse Apprentice Guild, The Harrow, Poems Niederngasse, Avocet, and Pedestal Magazine.


Serena said...

Thanks for having me. It looks good.

Anna said...

Great post! Serena does work hard to show people that poetry IS for everyone.

Serena said...

Thanks, Anna, you were my first and only commenter for a long time.

The Writer's Center said...

Yes, I agree. I'm totally impressed by how much Serena can get done--and now with a baby!

Amazing. Poets should be happy to have you. And this is just Savvy Verse & Wit. Didn't even mention War Through the Generations.

So it's not just poets!

Serena said...

So I've got two readers...and what great readers they are! Thanks, Kyle for the invite. I get a lot done, but there is so much that is not done. :)

bermudaonion said...

This is a great post! I love Serena's blog - she does so much to promote poetry and has inspired me to try it.

Serena said...

Kathy, thanks so much for reading the post. I hope that I inspire others to give poetry a try.