Instagram and Poetry Month

 

This past April was National Poetry Month, as it has been every year in the U.S. since 1996. While I do sympathize in some part with the quiet criticisms of the celebration, a somewhat trivial designation for the public’s attention to turn toward poetry (the point being that after you’ve taken brief notice of the fact of its existence you can then continue with your general neglect of poetry), I decided to say Bernstein be damned and take on a reflective self-challenge.

I wrote a poem each day this April and posted it to my Instagram feed (not too far of a scroll away). Being my birth month, I associate the Spring and the re-awakening of the earth in this hemisphere with creative activity. But never have I forced myself to compose one poem, each day, for a month, as if I were manually breaking open seeds and thrusting them through to the surface prematurely. Most took in some light (and likes) amidst all the visual splendor of that medium. After week one I gained a steady pace of alternating between writing and posting, then took time to peruse the other poets at work through the convenience of Instagram’s self-making engine.

What I found was a strange mix. There was certainly cobwebs-upon-cobwebs of cliched and tired metaphors applauded with fan hearts and digital accolades, but there were also some authentic voices stringing together solid and resounding verse. In some cases, poets in either camp are making the leap from the app to bookstore shelves. My old employer of West Coast indie fame, Powell’s Books, has collected a number of such authors for your interest and support with handheld yet plug-less reading. Mostly self-published at first, these poets have made the successful transition to authors-with-contracts by the proving ground of Instagram – which saves the publisher most, if not all, publicity and marketing expenses upon the volume’s release.

Has this made poetry a well-read form again, as it once was in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century? Probably not as it once was, and perhaps “well-read” is a generous and not altogether substantial statement. The scrolling must continue on Instagram, indeed, it feeds off such motion which your twitching digits reinforce. What seemed so noble or profound in scant lines once jammed between the colorful plate of food before, and the glorious body come after, may not hold for much longer with its own spine. These are not uncharted waters, but the fog of short attention is always rolling in to obscure our appreciation of the beautiful, and the trash, alike. My only advice would be to read with a critical eye, not just for pleasure.

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Instagram and Poetry Month

One Page Love Story: Share the Love

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Almost 3 weeks ago, a volume of love stories featured on the year-long, collaborative Tumblr project One Page Love Story was released into the world for purchase on Kindle or in paperback. Affirming the continued existence of physical books, this volume is printed on nice, warm colored stock and has a matte colored cover, as you can see above in one of its new homes for the feast of public eyes, Strand Books! However, this Saturday March 7th and Sunday the 8th are Kindle free days in which you can read and revel in the work that’s been brought together.

The collection of writers involved in this project were prompted by author Rich Walls to participate in the crafting of short fictional love stories of their own composition, submitting one-a-day over a period of 10 days. One Page Love Story: Share the Love is the culmination of these multiple efforts. A portion of the proceeds go to First Book, a charity which “is determined to see that all children, regardless of their economic conditions, can achieve more in school and in life through access to an ongoing supply of new books,” and so I encourage Kindle readers to consider purchasing a paperback copy for this sake for themselves or as a gift.

I am quite proud to be amongst a hearty crew of working authors who have chosen to support such a worthy cause and create work in this surprisingly tough constraint & format. Each one manages to illuminate a wavelength in the spectrum of love’s expression within human life. Thank you to Rich for making this all possible and to the many readers, writers and lovers in this world, striving for those peak experiences of consciousness and communion.

One Page Love Story: Share the Love