Poetweet

This morning I ran across an L.A. Times article on a website called Poetweet. It’s a website that transforms your tweets into poems. Upon arrival on the homepage, you’re prompted to enter a Twitter handle. From there you can choose the type of poem you want your tweets transformed into: sonnet, rondel or indriso.

Poetweet then scours your twitter account, borrows bits and piece of tweets and then rearranges them into the format of the selected poems. Here is an example of a sonnet it threw together from my tweets.

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The result is a hodgepodge of news articles I wrote or shared and correspondence between comic book creators or friends. On the website you can hold your mouse over each line to see where the tweets come from.

You don’t need to use your own, which could be fun. Here is a rondel from my wife’s business twitter. She’s a salon owner, and all of the text comes from photo captions.

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I thought it would be fun to type in the twitter handle of someone who’s known for having kind of an eccentric twitter presence. I typed @the_ironsheik expecting the website to churn out an indriso filled with all kinds of offensive nonsense, but it keeps saying there’s not enough tweets. He has over 16,000.

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I’m not a poet, but I’d be interested in finding out what people in the poetry community think about the website.  Is this just something silly? Is this something that bastardizes the medium of poetry?

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Terrain.org

Established in 1998, Terrain.org is an online journal, which focuses around the theme of built and natural environments, celebrating the connection between them and exploring areas where no connections exist. Terrain.org publishes poems, fiction and nonfiction, editorials, columns, interviews, reviews and recommended readings, regional case studies, articles on communities as well as a blog.

 

At first glance, I was a bit confused as to what they meant by built and natural environments. After exploring the website and reading a January 20th post, Two Poems by Ray Gonzalez, I found it was just that, a celebration of all types of environments.

Gonzalez’s poem, South Past Albuquerque, starts with fear and foreboding men that “came in the night, then went away in black rain.”Gonzalez goes on to paint a picture of the landscape; the road before them– San Miguel, La Union, Kilbourne Hole, Cuchillo– as he speaks about the stories that were told on this journey.

 

Who’s in the car and what they’re driving away from or to is uncertain to the reader. Lines like “Everyone had a story to tell. Some got told, some were changed to keep families alive.” keep that unsettling feeling going as the story comes to an end and the sweat of the story teller becomes part of the landscape.

On the other end of the spectrum, terrain.org features nonfiction journalistic case studies like Willow Bend in Fayetteville, Arkansas by Neil Heller, which explores a proposed development in the area. The piece is in depth, and includes maps and mock-up sketches of the area. Although it’s very different from the poems featured on the site, it still revolves around the subject built and natural environments.

The site is easy to navigate and the home page is separated into categories: Literature (poems, fiction and nonfiction), Perspective (editorials, columns, interviews, reviews and recommended readings), Unsprawl (regional case studies, community) and Arterrain (art.) The pieces on the homepage rotate and each piece has large photos that zoom in as your mouse hovers by.

Contest submissions are open all year with a $10 submission fee and a $250 prize in each genre. All other submissions are free and open from Sept. 1 to June 1.

I would feel comfortable submitting if I felt I had a piece that centered on environments, one where the setting is almost a character. Terrain.org gives you a lot of options as well when it comes to the variety of genres they publish.

Aside from terrain.org, they can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest and Flickr, and offer readers the opportunity to receive their newsletter via email.

Are Celebrity’s Works Too Easily Accepted?

If you’ve been reading my posts so far, you’re probably aware by now that I’m obnoxiously obsessed with comedy, and you can probably tell that I’ve been reaching really hard to try and connect it to literature in such a fashion that I can blog about it in this class so I can still get a good grade because technically I’m writing something that’s relevant to the course. Here’s another blog exactly like that.

Bo Burnham. Love him. An amazing stand-up comedian. Truly one of the most brilliant, talented young people in the industry. His first Comedy Central hour special was filmed four days after his eighteenth birthday. Bo was discovered on YouTube, basically the Justin Bieber of comedy, but with less leather. He can sing, act, dance, rap, play instruments, tell jokes, film, edit, and obviously write. In October, he released a book of poetry called “Egghead.” 

Reading it through a comedic filter, I thought it was really funny. Reading it through the filter of a student who’s been in one-too-many workshop classes as an English major, I feel like my peers and professors would tear this apart. I know I did. Let’s workshop this.

Your Mom

If I had a million dollars, I would pay your mother

to have sex with me.

Afterward, I would probably invest the remaining nine hundred ninety-nine

thousand nine hundred ninety nine dollars.

Burrrrrn.

Seriously? That’s a poem? That’s a published poem? That’s in a book of poems that was published? Okay. Let’s dissect this: This isn’t a poem. What’s up with those line-breaks? Are they intentional? Do they serve a purpose? Who is the narrator? Is the “I” the author or someone else? Who is the “you?” Does the mother represent something else? Something grander, more meaningful? Honestly, this seems like a joke that Bo was too embarrassed to say on stage. This is like a D-list joke. This is hardly even a joke. This is like a D-list tweet. This is published.

Let’s look at another one.

Toast

I’d like to propose a toast:

sourdough pumpkin bread.

Thoughts?

I paid money for this book. Real money. We get it, Bo, you’re clever. But please, save it for the stage. No, don’t. People wouldn’t laugh. Tweet it. No, don’t. Just forget it. Sometimes you need to kill your babies. That’s what I feel this book is. I think this book is a collection of undeveloped thoughts that Bo cared too much about to throw away. He cared too much to throw them away so he put them in a pile, realized that he could use his celebrity status to get published and make some extra cash off of sorry saps like me. If I wanted to be surrounded by these types of “punny thoughts,” I’d go to my family’s Hanukah party in Ohio and sit at the kids’ table next to my eleven-year-old cousin with Aspergers.  Bo is a genius. I know he can do better than this, because I just saw his latest special. Most of his jokes have depth on depth on depth- they really truly mean something to society as well as to the core of human emotion. His jokes aren’t just ha-ha funny, but they’re intellectually stimulating. And sure, there’s plenty of poems in here that are much longer that do end up striking a chord and having some magnitude, but the majority of the poems seem like filler.

Let’s look at one more poem:

 Chameleon

I put a chameleon on a red dildo.

He blushed.

Let’s workshop this: This isn’t a poem.

Overall, if these “poems” were submitted by someone with a name other than “Bo Burnham,” they would not be published, if not disregarded completely. One of the things I’ve learned this quarter is that in order for a collection of poetry to be considered legitimately scholarly/academically accepted, each separate poem needs to be able to stand on it’s own in a completely different setting (journal, magazine, etc.) other than the current collection. While there are quite a few poems in here that are very well written, the majority of them would not be able to stand alone, therefore I deem this book as a weak collection, and, in an academic setting, an ultimate failure. I’m not saying I could do better, and I’m not saying that I didn’t think this was funny, but by simply applying the knowledge I’ve gained as an English major, these are the conclusions I’ve drawn.

I feel like I haven’t done Bo much justice with this post, and if you haven’t heard of him, I truly think he’s currently one of the most creative minds in the entertainment industry right now. Here is a link to his latest special. It is free. You won’t regret it.