Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Twittering, Tweeting Poets

I confess, I've not thought much about Twitter and various art forms that are created via Twitter and cell phones. I can barely remember to keep my cell phone on when I've said that I would, so I don't anticipate moving my artistic endeavours to Twitter any time soon. I'm more likely to disconnect an incoming call when I try to answer it than to speak to someone--I swear that I'm not doing it consciously! My friend says she has an old-fashioned cell phone that only "doubles as an alarm clock and tip calculator and that's it"--an alarm clock? Could my phone do that? I don't even set up the message inbox, because I don't want people to think I'll check it and return their calls.

So, you'd think I'd be the last person in the world to be thinking about Twitter and other cell phone apps. In fact, I only recently started to think about poetry and Twitter when I recently read this article about tweeting recipes. I started thinking about how Twitter would require one to condense, condense, condense--a practice similar to what I force poetry students to do. The next week, I force them to write longer and larger, just to be fair. I think we tend to get in a rut. We do what's worked best for us in the past, and we rarely stretch ourselves once we figure it out. But what if there's another method that might yield interesting results?

Twittering could be useful, in that it forces us to work with new media and for most of us new form. How many of us force ourselves to write something powerful with just 140 characters? Don't count the haiku that you write to fulfill your National Poetry Month Poem-a-Day Challenge!

It reminds me of a time I wanted to enter a short short story contest. I started with the shortest short story I had ever written and discovered that I still needed to cut some 700 words. I looked at every sentence, evaluating its importance. Cutting those nonessential sentences still left me with substantial cutting to do; I ended up evaluating every single word.

I suppose that if I was a really good writer, I'd replicate this process with every piece of writing. I do not. Twittering might force me to do so.

And yet, and yet, and yet. I love blogging. I expected to love blogging, and yet, I love it so much more than I thought I would. But I must admit that I suspect blogging takes me away from poetry work, while, oddly, at the same time enriching and nourishing my poet self. I read more because of the Internet, yet, I have to admit at the same time, that I read less--less in the form of old-fashioned books. It's difficult for me to want to add yet another process that's likely to shorten my attention span and the amount of time available for poetry activities. And then there's the cost of the technology . . .

If you want to read more about poets and Twitter, and you want a list of poets who twitter, go to Collin Kelley's post.

If you want a voice that convinces you that you'll never want to Twitter, go to Rebecca Loudon's blog and read this post. She says, "Twitter seems to me the dumbing down of texting." And then there's yesterday's bit on NPR's Morning Edition. You can either read it or listen here.

These are interesting questions. Are the gains we're making enough to justify sacrificing our privacy in the ways that so many people do? Are we all just trying to avoid our deepest thoughts? Or does this technology help us to connect with our deeper selves?

1 comment:

Serena said...

I'm not interested in Twitter...I think I have too many items on my plate these days and I need to keep it all in perspective.