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Oct 11, 2017

RBR Teacher’s Website Honored As a Top Literary Blog on the Web

Gretna Wilkinson, Red Bank Regional’s (RBR) acclaimed creative writing  teacher, was recently notified that her website and literary blog, http://www.theravensperch.com/, was selected as one of the top 100 literary blogs on the web by www.Feedspot.com, a website aggregator. Feedspot determines the top literary websites among the thousands on the web through social and search metrics. This is an amazing feat, since Dr. Wilkinson’s blog is only one and half years old and now shares its perch among a prestigious group of literary blogs such as the Harvard Literary Press, which has published non-fiction works since 1913, and Ploughshares, which has published since 1971. The RavensPerch was created from her desire to give a platform for high-quality submissions of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and visual arts for writers of all ages.  A published poet of five books and former RBR Teacher of the Year (among many other accolades), Dr. Wilkinson decided to create her blog, after imagining it for five years, by following the advice she offers her students. “I give them a quote a day, and one was, ‘If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.’ I realized that this dream was scaring me, so I did it,” she explains.

After numerous unsatisfactory attempts to create a do-it-yourself website, she gave in to another of her proffered quotes, “If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well,” and hired a talented local webmaster, Ben Marshall of Red Bank, who successfully channeled her desires and requirements to properly “birth her baby.” She says, “I wanted to make it more experiential, so that people who don’t have time to read everything or even anything can be inspired by the image of the whole page, which changes every day.” The RavensPerch receives submissions of exceedingly high quality each month from all over the world, and publishes between 85% to 90% of those. A staff of “editors,” including her son Wycliffe and professional associates, give their time to evaluate and edit submissions. The authors are as young as eight and as old as 90.

Dr. Wilkinson states, “I wanted to bridge the generational divide and see parents, grandparents, and grandchildren all published on the same site. Additionally, I wanted to create a home for established as well as emerging writers.” She notes a very moving piece she published by a former prisoner under the brutal Saddam Hussein regime, who now writes from the safety of his new home in America. Criteria to publish require that submissions be original work never previously published, with certain limitations on size and words. Only a $5 reading/administrative fee is charged for submission to help defray the cost of keeping up such an extensive website. The fee is purposely low so no one is barred from contributing for financial reasons. The website remains a personal, and substantial, investment that Dr. Wilkinson makes for her “personal calling” to world culture.

As with everything literary for Gretna Wilkinson, the selection of her blog’s name, The RavensPerch, has great meaning. “The raven is a fearless bird. It will fly into storms, right into the eye,” explains the woman, a former missionary from the jungles of her native Guyana who immigrated to America to become a poet, author, literary performer, and 50-year educator, inspiring other students to create their own masterpieces.