Saturday, 7 February 2015

Vanishings and Reappearances
in the Twittersphere:
Writing on and through Twitter 4

What She Was Writing

  • This does not make sense, she wrote. What she wrote was clear, precise, legible. It did not make sense. The clearer it got, the less sense it made.
  • Nothing makes sense. The moon leaking light, the wind prising open the window. She wrote leaning forward; her writing cursive, sealed, clean.
  • To construct a shelter out of the impossible, she wrote, one needs perfection. This is not it. This is not a shelter. It is writing.
  • If only the act of writing were self-completing, she wrote as the moth in the window fluttered and rattled. This is neither moth nor window.
  • If only yearning could be written, she wrote. Something in the distance suggested completion. She wrote towards it as clearly as she could.
  • Every time I begin a sentence I can feel its end approaching. Once it arrives, I can stop, she wrote and placed a neat period at 'stop'.
  • There is nothing to be gained, she wrote. The desk light threw a shadow that suggested something else. The sentence was moving towards it....

A note on Twitterature as community and form
Soon after beginning to write on Twitter I became acquainted with other Twitter writers. The poets W N Herbert and Ian Duhig were familiar to me from their books as well as in person though it wasn’t poetry or even literature they were tweeting, more jokes, quirks and insights: the poetic in its off-stage moments.

But there were others who were on the same path as I was. I came across James Knight, also known as The Bird King, and a figure naming himself Aksania Xenogrette whose tweets were clearly literary in one or other sense, Knight’s surreal, gothic and grotesque, Xenogrette’s high pitched, like tiny obscene shrieks, and we began to talk to each other about the possibility of literature, or twitterature. We asked questions and tried to answer them on Twitter itself. We gathered more received forms that might be adapted not only to the 140-character form  but to the ephemerality and fragmentation.

Here are some of the potential forms we agreed on: the limerick, the haiku, the distich, the epigram the proverb, flash fiction, fan fiction mash-ups, the dictionary, the anecdote,  the joke, the telegram, the enigma and, in not strictly literary terms, the advert, the invitation, the curse, the prayer, the query, the hook, the homily, the joke, the brush-off, and so on. We considered the use of the hash-tag as a form of linking. We weighed the advantages and disadvantages of received verse forms against free verse and non-verse. We considered collaboration too though by this time other collaborations had begun without any prompting.

I like collaboration and I don’t much mind what others do with what they find of mine. It is beyond control. The fragments will add up to something for others, they always do, whether you want them to or not. I don’t want to be too aware of the what they add up to for me.

Personal Conclusion
I play with the internet because it is a plausible model of the mind; because I like to explore the unexplored places of that mind; and because I think of the web as a place where the ghostly, never-to-be-fully-located unitary voice is not lost, only expanded, broken, then reassembled in all it fragmentariness into what might be a significant pattern.

The talk ended with a reading of Among Animals, a sequence of haiku-shaped poems composed on Twitter and recently published in The Times Literary Supplement, no. 5834, as a single poem. Here are the last four verses of the fourteen verse poem.

from Among Animals


Creatures construct you.
The world put you together
as its quaint puzzle.

Now you dismantle
the night. Now you call the dark
to its vast kennel.

Your territory
is crowded with animals
that go their own ways.

Behold your creatures,
says the book of the body.
Converse with your tribe.

[End of series]


Poetry Pleases! said...

Dear George

As people become increasingly time poor, I think that twitterature probably represents the brave new world that we are still on the cusp of.

Best wishes from Simon R. Gladdish

Gwil W said...

"if diplomacy fails we must look at lethal defensive weapons" is the latest quote from a transatlantic twit on the current cold woe.

George S said...

Cold woe may be better than hot woe.