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Good Letters

octo abstractTootling around on Twitter, I’ve come upon a delightful community of poets. Their hashtag is #micropoetry. What these writers have realized is that Twitter’s restriction of 140 characters can be a stimulating challenge to finding just the right words to express concisely an impression, an experience, a thought.

Much micropoetry on Twitter seems to be images from the natural world. While many of these poems are clichéd, some have a freshness. Here are three, from different tweeters:

arsonist flowers / trying to set / balconies alight

March visiting June / laughing at her sister’s blooms / she knifes her with cold

The clouds descend on the hill / and brush the swings in the park / into movement / phantom wind child / swinging its legs / into the sky

The second most popular category seems to be love poems. Alas, most are sentimental. But I do like this one:

Smiling / smelling the scent of mandarin and coriander / I realize / he showered / using my body wash.

Then there are many that are downright fun. Four of my favorites:

Family get together / my aunts complaining / about their corns

a pain in the ankle / or a weight in the stomach / all dangers / for an old age / jogger

sitting in a bar / wearing old friends / like a comfort blanket

Please do not eat that / That is Plaster of Paris / Said the laborer

Lately the #micropoetry community has discovered that a perfect form for micropoetry already exists—the haiku, with its strict three lines: five syllables, then seven syllables, then five again. Here are some of my favorites;

Crows call from willows / shaking feathers free, pitch black / future reflections

a fall of moonlight / on the dim stairs was only / a little boy’s sock

The haiku traditionally draws on images from nature, as in the poems above. But it doesn’t have to. Look at these:

I walk through shadows / of events that never were, / and never can be.

There is a reason / most truths are in dark clothing / wearing sunglasses.

Speaking of truth, other micropoets are commenting on current events. I like the clever end-rhyming in this poem on our election season, posted in early October:

of late / we truncate / true debate / head straight / to hate

And this one from October 8th, honoring the women who were on the boat that aimed to break the blockade of Gaza:

Thanks and smiles / for the tender diamonds / in the necklace of bravery

Checking in from time to time on #micropoetry, I always find it heartening that so many people want to work with the craft of shaping words. Before Twitter, there were certainly countless nameless poets: people writing poetry for themselves and a few friends. Writing it just because of the mysterious satisfaction of taking our most common means of communication—verbal language—and molding it into a carrier of meaning beyond the words’ bare definitions.

But then came this gift of the Internet. On Twitter, these people who love language can instantly form a community, have an audience, receive responses, sometimes play off of each other’s lines.

To my mind, it doesn’t matter that much of the #micropoetry is hackneyed. What matters is that people seek outlets for their creative impulses. The marvelous truth is that creativity is so deeply part of who we are as humans that it will take any new medium as its material.

Naturally, then, some of Twitter’s micropoetry celebrates poetry itself.

On Poetry: as she stepped into / my little cup of life / all my past spilled over

Read it / write it / magnetize it / to the fridge / but somehow / enrich / your life / with poetry

And this delightful self-mocking poem, teasing about Twitter itself:

The muse won’t shut up / but I can count on Twitter / for waste disposal

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The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Written by: Peggy Rosenthal

Peggy Rosenthal is director of Poetry Retreats and writes widely on poetry as a spiritual resource. Her books include Praying through Poetry: Hope for Violent Times (Franciscan Media), and The Poets’ Jesus (Oxford). See Amazon for a full list. She also teaches an online course, “Poetry as a Spiritual Practice,” through Image’s Glen Online program.

The Twitter poets featured in this post are: @coffeeperc, @sarahcpotter, @AkiSchilz, @dgdreamin, @tankaqueen, @FahadYousufzai, @SusanPurr, @Peter_G_Massey, @HoggRob, @ShortOrderPoet, @MSeeseTweets, @TyseerIbrahim, @Razarumi, and @Gonzobacardi.

1 Comment

  1. Maureen on November 3, 2016 at 9:45 am

    Thank you, Peggy, for bringing attention to #Micropoetry on Twitter. Poetry has, perhaps surprisingly to some, a solid community on Twitter (and also Facebook). It’s the fun of engaging with others, being part of a community, that makes Twitter-poetry-making fun.

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