WRITER JOSEPH EPSTEIN wrote an essay called Who Killed Poetry? Novelist Martin Amis made a speech about the disappearance of this art. Newsweek published an article headlined: “Poetry is dead. Does anyone really care?”
Here’s news for you guys. Poetry is creeping back to life. Poems are aspects of human experience distilled into small strings of words, right? Thanks to SMS phone texts (160 characters), Twitter messages (140 characters) and Facebook status lines (one short paragraph), millions of people all over the world have started writing poetry.
Most are awful, but some aren’t bad.
An artist called An Xiao writes fragmentary glimpses of her life on the internet: “Insomnia. Late night tap-tappings at the computer.”
On a friend’s Facebook page I saw this: “Mark Malby is sitting out in the garden in the night wind, looking across all the years.”
Adriaan Jacobsz published this on a Twitter message last week: “Dark clouds silent trees reach out into the noise.”
But of course people who write poetry lay themselves open to being teased.
Sam Cutler wrote this on his Facebook status line: “Last night I walked in the fields and told the Gods of our love whilst the stones cried.” Reader Wendy Peterson commented: “So sad, so beautiful.” But reader Simon Ford drew a more pragmatic conclusion: “Told you those magic mushrooms were good.”
Perhaps the prize for the most cringingly emotional Facebook status line goes to Atiq Anan, who wrote: “Antiq Anan doesn’t want to say anything, he just wants to feel.” Atiq, let me just take you aside for a quick word. You’re a GUY. Guys just don’t say that sort of thing. You’re letting the side down.
Of course, one can use these opportunities to write short epigrams which are funny rather than lyrical. Here are three:
1) NAME HERE bought ten meals at McDonalds and got a big fat bottom absolutely free.
2) NAME HERE plans to merge MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter and call it My Face You Twit.
3) And this one is from this columnist’s Facebook page:
NAME HERE realized long ago that he could never be a good example to young people, so he decided instead to be a horrible warning.
READER PETER BENTLEYcommented on a recent column on bottled water. “We once did some tests in Beijing on bottled water and Beijing tap water: they were exactly the same thing! Yes, water bottling companies were just pouring in normal Beijing tap water.” He reckons the same thing happens in many Asian cities, and I’m sure he’s right.
A reader named Mike said that people who paid for bottled water were just paying “a tax on stupidity”.
A SUICIDE BOMBER in Grozny, Russia, killed no one but herself, the media reported. Let’s just hope this is a new trend among suicide bombers. A problem that solves itself!
A BEGGER APPROACHED writer Robin Hemley and said: "Spare change for therapy?" Robin thought this was rather creative. His friend Robert Clark Young drew a different conclusion: “Therapists are accepting small change now? Wow, this really is a recession.”
HEALTH AUTHORITIES in Australia want to limit each sports fan to no more than one 24-can case of beer per day. Reader Dan Kubiske commented: “OMG! What will Aussies do after the first five minutes?”
(Poetry illustrations: mostly from I Can Read)