Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wednesday Writing Workout: Social Media Poems!

Throughout April (National Poetry Month), I'm posting poetry-themed Wednesday Writing Workouts. This week, I was in the mood for something short. I thumbed through my worn copy of The Book of Forms by Lewis Turco, but none of the 175+ forms jumped out at me. I wanted something new.

Then my son Jimmy sent me an article, "The Ideal Length of Everything Online, Backed by Research," which defines (among other things) the ideal length of a tweet as 100 characters and the ideal length of a Facebook post as less than 40 characters. Naturally, I thought about writing poems short enough to be posted on social media.

I searched online to find out what already existed on the topic. In an article from 2011, Carol Ann Duffy, Britain's Poet Laureate, said poetry is "a way of saying more with less, just as texting is. We've got to realise that the Facebook generation is the future – and, oddly enough, poetry is the perfect form for them. It's a kind of time capsule – it allows feelings and ideas to travel big distances in a very condensed form."

To celebrate National Poetry Month, New York City hosted its fifth annual "#NYCPoetweet" Twitter poetry contest. So obviously, I didn't make up the idea of writing poems to post on social media sites, although I've posted a number myself. Haiku fit perfectly, as you can see in Laura's daily Riddle-Ku. Liz Garton Scanlon is posting a haiku on her blog every day this month. My cousin Maureen sent me an article about H. W. Brands (@hwbrands), an author, historian, and history professor who is tweeting "Haiku History: The American Saga Seventeen Syllables at a Time."

But a brief poem intended for social media doesn't need a specific form—it just has to be a short poem, maybe with a tangy metaphor, an alliterative pun, or a haiku-like twist. Writing short-short poems is practice in writing concisely. Here are a couple new ones of mine, both about this spring in Wisconsin:

Gray skies, more rain.
One goldfinch brightens 
the world.

Wet sidewalks = worm traps.
Stop wiggling—I'm trying to help!

I found social media-length poems on Twitter using these hashtags:
If you search (as I did), be aware that you will find poems of uneven quality, from brilliant to confusing to downright offensive. But do try writing some of your own just for fun—and then share them online!

Congratulations to our Fifth Blogiversary Book Bundle winners!
Rafflecopter lists our prize winners on the original post, so you can always check back there after a drawing ends to see who won. Five entries were chosen to receive five books each. Here are the winners:

New Teaching Author Book Giveaway!
Don't forget to enter for a chance to win a copy of Jill Esbaum's Angry Birds Playground: Rain Forest.

National Poetry Month
On my own blog, I'm posting more poetry writing tips and assorted poetry treats on Fridays through April. This week's post includes the final National Poetry Month giveaway of Write a Poem Step by Step. Be sure to stop by!

JoAnn Early Macken


Linda B said...

Our finches still haven't arrived. Then I'll know that winter is really over! Thanks for sharing the hashtags; I'll check them out JoAnn. I have fun at Laura's site on Thursdays with her 15 words or less challenge.

laurasalas said...

I love your poems, especially the goldfinch one! I occasionally tweet short poems (and have been posting my riddle-ku on Twitter), so thanks for the list of hashtags! I haven't been using any of them.

And I love the idea of American history in Tweets. I'm a big fan of super short poems, so this stuff is right up my alley!

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Linda & Laura, have fun exploring the poetry hashtags! I know I will!

Carmela Martino said...

Love the poems and the photos, too, JA. Thanks for all the great WWWs this month!