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:

drums, electric guitar and See Wern Hao

See Wern Hao is the latest, living and active poet to grant me permission to recreate two pieces of his poetry as video on Youtube.  Given his penchant for quoting popular music as inspiration for his work both poetic pieces are complimented with dramatic, rock-esque music.

Promoting poetry on Youtube is still a slow build for me but these young, vital poets keep me going.  While pursuing a degree in law and liberal arts, See Wern Hao is keeping his lit lit by participating in the 2017 Singapore Writers Festival and scattering his work, like seeds, over the fields of social media and online journals.  He is everything that I think a young writer should be: active, available, smart, keeping busy and out of trouble.  I totally made up the last part.  I have no idea how much trouble he gets into.  I do know that when I was in school, I spent a little too much of my time ‘doing something close to nothing, but different than the day before’ [quote from Raspberry Beret, Prince].  I also held the immature idea back then that all I needed to do to be a great writer was hone my craft — which included getting into interesting experiences to write about — and somehow and someway, publishers would find my talent like a beacon calling out to them.  I was not nearly as active or in tune to my other options as Mr. Hao.

I also don’t know for a fact that See Wern Hao is all the things that I claim he is.  I say it because I see it in the body of work that he has produced of himself online.  I see it in his commitment to his poetry.  It’s one thing to spread your work around and another to hone your craft.  Two completely different things.  He’s got the right balance and I can’t wait to see how his craft and career grows in years to come.

I am amazed to follow after this next generation of poets when just a few years ago I honestly believed that all our great poets were from older generations or generations gone by and poetry was a wilting art.

Please check out below the two new videos on the lyw Youtube channel … a channel exploring the online potential for shared and sharing literary works.  **Videos are best seen in the highest HD setting otherwise the text looks blurry.

1. a poet is only madness … a poem by See Wern Hao

2. Home of the Professional Dreamers … a poem by See Wern Hao

© lyw 

Thank you to Unsplash.com for the use of their beautiful library of hi-res photography in the making of these videos.