the Lit Twit: a poetry campaign on Twitter

So ima gonna tweet once a weekday for a month; see if I can’t blow out or up a decent tune about poetry.

To date, I have only used Twitter as a supplementary tool to my blog.  But no longer!  The bird will take centre-stage on September 4, marking the beginning of a little poetry campaign through Twitter.  I’ve renamed my Twitter account to the Lit Twit in honour of the campaign.  During the Lit Twit campaign, I will tweet a couple lines of poetry (classical, contemporary and obscure), ending each week with the persistent question: Why do We Read / Write Poetry?  A question that is open to anybody’s answer.

Let’s face it, Twitter is pretty severe for writers.  WORDY writers, if that’s what you want to call me.  140 character limit?  Why bother?  Was my common thought.

But you know what I’ve learned to love about this limitation?  I can amplify a piece of poetry that would not have nearly the same volume within the body of a larger whole.  In fact, an isolated line of poetry in the frame of a tweet becomes almost like a visual message.

Poems tend to literally look a lot alike – a column with the right side in a waving line if you don’t justify your text.  The longer and denser the poem, the more it looks like nothing more than a big column, never mind the text.  And quite honestly, since I have a generational sickness of a short attention span, I am less inclined to dig in when poetry looks like that.

I chipped off a piece of a big marble column and presented that instead of the whole column it would certainly have a more unique shape and the size would be less daunting.  That piece’s texture and particular veins might become more striking by this isolation.  A small piece of poetry can often feel very big.

And it’s not like a haiku.  I’ve cut a piece of poetry out of a larger whole.   The places where I cut enhance the viewer/reader experience, especially if you stop to imagine what the rest of the column must have looked like; what the rest of the poem might have been saying.

All the living and at large poets who have granted me permission to recreate their poetry on Youtube have also granted permission to quote their work during this campaign.  George Elliott Clarke, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada, included.  We affectionately tweet him as GEC.  I want to publicly thank him again for being so supportive.  And the pieces that I struck from his larger poems, are really going to sing as tweets.

During this campaign, I’m also going to share my love for some masterful poets that until a few years ago were unknown to me.

Do you know Adunis?  Aka Alī Aḥmad Saʿīd ‘Isbar?  Can’t believe I stumbled upon one of his poems by accident a couple of years ago and he could have easily gone unnoticed my whole life.  Today, I am a large and growing fan.  It amazes me how his work can be both simple and complex at the same time.  His poetry feels alive and moving.  Flows like thoughts from my own head but shares, clearly, somebody else’s experience.

And Mr. Gerard Manley Hopkins?  Spellbinder. That’s what I call him.  Read Windhover loud and out loud and, hopefully, you get something of what I did from that poem.  Can’t believe I’d never read his work until a few years ago as well.

So, some classical, some ‘obscure’ (to me anyway), some contemporary and some GEC all in a month of poetweeting.

If you are into Twitter and poetry, or think you could be, please find this campaign at #LillianYWong (aka the Lit Twit) starting September 4!

© lyw

light bulb image c/o Alvaro Serrano at Unsplash.com

Links to the works of some of our campaign’s featured poets:

GEC stands for Mr. George Elliott Clarke

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the honour of coming to know one of Canada’s most esteemed poets, Mr. George Elliott Clarke, as GEC.  Cuz that’s the name of the folder that carried all the drafts that helped produce the latest two poetry videos on the lyw Youtube channel.

Nevertheless, I always address him directly as Mr. Clarke. It was a privilege to work with his poetry in my own version of a creative universe.  Lots of ways to get to know people but I doubt any compare to the layers and weaving of one’s creative work on another’s.  Mr. Clarke very graciously approved and supported the idea of letting me illustrate two of his poems through video.

The first video, Everything is Free, is a gentle poem that lets space and breath build into a feeling of hope and renewal.  Amazing dance photography seemed the best way to illustrate this poem. Both demonstrate clean, powerful, precise and beautiful movement even though everything is actually static — everything is actually free ;).

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The 2nd video is a little more mysterious because it isolates two poetic fragments from a larger poem, from a larger series of poetry.

Both poetry videos show verses from the book, Whylah Falls, which tells the story of lovers in southwestern Nova Scotia in the 1930s, through dramatic monologues, songs, sermons, sonnets, newspaper snippets, recipes, haiku and free verse. [info c/o en.wikipedia.org]

But a small piece of poetry can sometimes feel very big, and I think the isolation of these fragments actually frees the reader’s imagination to fill in the missing gaps with their own lives, memories … recipes and songs.

When I read Each Moment is Magnificent, I interpreted it as a person who reflects on a river, metaphorical and literal, that has flowed through and around him all his life.  I imagine a man lying on his back in an open field staring at the stars, while the sounds of the river flow over him like music.  And the music isn’t all peace and harmony and lovey nature – it’s a strong current pulling at a resilient person.

Please check out the two latest additions to the lyw Youtube channel.  I’d like to thank Mr. Clarke again, through this blog, for the pleasure of working with his poetry.

Everything is Free

Each Moment is Magnificent 

 

I have to give props to special contributors for these videos.  Carlo Cruz and Orestis Charalambous kindly donated their stunning dance photography to the first video.  The use of the image of the Sissiboo (aka Sixhiboux) River was kindly donated by the Yarmouth County Museum.  Thomas Hawke allowed the use of the piano image in the 2nd video.  Full credit details are in the video.

a poem from George Elliott Clarke

Each Moment Is Magnificent

George Elliott Clarke
From:   Whylah Falls, 1990.

Othello practises White Rum, his scale of just music, and clears the love song of muddying his morals. He sets his glass down 1ovingly, a whole chorus of molecules sloshing in harmony. He vows he will not, he will not be a dead hero, no way, suffering a beautiful sleep, trimmed with ochre, hazelnut, dressed in mahogany, smelling of last-minute honey and tears, regrets rained upon him too late in the guise of wilted, frail flowers. Instead, he will sleep right now, while he still can, up to his thighs in thighs, gnaw dried, salty smelts, ana water song with rum. Sweet Sixhiboux, run softly till I end my song.

Wearing the lineaments of ungratified desire, Selah sashays from the livingroom, watches dusk bask in the River Sixhiboux. She tells Othello to shut up because Jericho’s where she’s gonna go when she falls in love. Yep, when that someday man come out the blue to Whylah Falls, Beauty Town, to serenade her and close his wings around her, she’ll be in Jericho at last like the fortune-tel1er says. She’ll jump the broom and cross the Nile.

I stroll outside with strange music in my skull. Here’s the Sixhiboux River, tossed tinfoil, crinkling along the ground, undistracted by all the grave lovers it attracts, all those late Romantics who spout Lake Poet Wordsworth, “The world is too much with us, late and soon,” and brood upon the river’s shimmering bliss before tossing themselves within, pretending to be Percy Bysshe Shelley at Lerici. I’ve thought of the Sixhiboux in those erotic ways, dreamt it as midnight-thick, voluptuous, folding — like a million moths, furry with a dry raininess — over one. No matter where you are in Sunflower County, you can hear it pooling, milling in a rain storm, or thundering over a hapless town. Even now, I can hear its shining roar pouring over Shelley’s house, polishing the roses that nod, drunken, or spring — petalled crude — from earth. All I hear is an old song, her voice, lilting, “Lover Man.”

[Click on this link for more poems from George Elliott Clarke: http://www.library.utoronto.ca/canpoetry/clarke/index.htm]