Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Backing off from the controversy for just a moment now, I’d like to talk about a very serious topic:


Chalk up one more seemingly useless social networking site next to the already existing plethora of uselessness to which I subscribe—MySpace, Facebook, Ning, LinkedIn, LiveJournal, MyFace, SpaceBook…And now, I’ve given in and joined Twitter.

[My apologies to those who haven’t signed up for one or more of these and have no idea what the heck the rest of this blog is about. You have my utmost admiration for not falling into such black holes cleverly disguised as “social networks”. Please feel free to stop reading this right now, go grab a cup of tea, put your feet up, and snuggle with an old-fashioned book or some re-runs of House. The rest of you, who have fallen to the seductive wiles of Facebook and her ilk right along with me, please keep reading.]

Twitter seemed useless to me. It’s like your Facebook or MySpace “status”…but without the Facebook or MySpace that goes WITH the status updates. I didn’t understand. That is, until I became addicted to reading the updates of celebrities (and quasi-celebs) like Neil Gaiman, Jimmy Fallon, Steve Poltz, Jason Mraz, Dave Barnes, Darnell Levine…

Some people have truly turned the “status update” into an art form. A new, technology-necessitated art form, but an art form nonetheless. One that is text-based. And short.

See where I’m going with this, poets?

Poetry is supposed to be the most condensed form of literature. So, do you think we can condense it to 140 characters or less [the length limit for any Twitter post]. I’ve recently attempted to post a handful of cinquain and other short poems in my status on Facebook and Twitter. Why not pick a week (maybe this summer) when we all decide to post short poems—be they haiku, cinquain, or other short verse—in our status updates?

In an era of lamentation over the increasing legitimacy of a sentence like, “wat r u 4 2nite?” why not make an attempt at infusing a bit of literacy back into technology? Just once, maybe we could, enmasse, attempt to update our status (stati?) with something a bit more worthwhile than, “Jane is…going to the gym before dinner.” Maybe this could be the new, updated version of various poetry postcard projects that exist out there. After all, the point behind the postcard projects is that the art is viewable and accessible to anyone and everyone, in much the same way that a status update is viewable by just about anyone on the internet, all over the world (depending on your privacy settings, of course).

Thoughts? Or am I just being naive?


John B. Burroughs said...

I must admit I rarely read anyone's updates on Twitter - unless I accidently encounter them when I log in. I've only recently joined Twitter, partly to see what the fuss is about, and partly to preserve the jesuscrisis URL (somebody beat me to it on MySpace). Now I use Twitter primarily to let folks know when I have a new blog.

I love your idea of "infusing a bit of literacy" into it - and there are, thankfully, a few folks who do that. One is Don Wentworth of the Liliput Review, who uses Twitter to regularly share short poetic gems by contributors to the review. http://twitter.com/lilliputreview.

His are among the rare updates I read - so are yours, T.M. I've considered doing something more creative with mine - if I can ever find the time. My creative fire is packed with irons, so who knows when I'll start. But if I know someone else is doing it, chances are I'll read when I can.

John B. Burroughs said...

Oops - I somehow left an L out of Lilliput Review in my text - but at least I got it right in the URL link! Maybe another cup of coffee will get my brain firing on all cylinders.


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau