When was the last time you wrote a poem? If you use Twitter, you might be a poet, and you don't even know it.
With Twitter, the public messaging service which limits responses to its question "What are you doing?" to 140 characters, found poems, mostly unintentional, bob in its sea of second-by-second updates.
Structure defines different types of poetry. Sonnets have fourteen lines, and villanelles have nineteen, each with different rhyme schemes. Haiku have three lines, each following a 5-7-5 syllable pattern.
After looking in a book of haiku and counting characters (including spaces between words) in a few, I've found that haiku can fit in the Twitter 140-characters format.
Blogville's resident Servant of Chaos Gavin first introduced me to Twitter by inviting me to join a TwitterPoetry account he set up. It's turned into a continually forming epic poem, written anonymously by those who log in, and each line is 140 characters or less. (If you're interested in joining, drop a comment and I'll forward you the log-in info.)
More poetic musings exists in Twitterland.
Some of the sharpest Twitters (a.k.a. "tweets") I receive are from a cat named Sockington. His Zen feline observations, typed by his owner, fit so well with this format. Some of my favorites:
- Sleeping with my little legs tucked under my head, tongue slightly out
- How am I ever going to learn to write if you won't let me take the pen?
- Does this whole thing make me Cat 2.0?
- Calculated deterministic probability of alternative fuel sourcing... j/k meow
Another Twitterer who excels in one-liner communication is Fake Steven Wright:
- I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.
- I'm addicted to placebos. I could quit but it wouldn't matter.
- In school they told me "practice makes perfect." Then they told me "nobody's perfect." So then I stopped practicing.
It takes practice and skill to write something memorable and brief. A thought has to be completely distilled to make an impact or it's ignored. Fluff blows away on the digital breeze; the diamonds stay.
As I Twitter, I'll continue to grind my one-liners, and I'll soon throw in a haiku. After discounting Twitter as one more needless distraction in my media-saturated life, I've come to see its usefulness as an occasional, community-based writing exercise.
Though poets often write about the small moments of everyday life, I'm still not convinced that anyone needs to know that I just took my laundry out of the dryer (one of my first silly "tweets"). I do like the idea of sharing wit and poetry with others, however. My Twitter address is here, if you're interested.
Image above is of "Yosa Buson, great painter, poet and calligrapher, by himself. The haiku says, more or less:
Hours of study..
a firefly coming out
• In honor of Sockington:
Mr. Lee Cat Cam