Unless the pink limo just dropped you off for your first visit (welcome), you likely already know how we here at Tweetspeak feel about reading a poem every day. We’ve seen firsthand how it can make you a better writer and we believe the experts who say reading poetry can boost creativity and increase your ability to understand complexity. (In short, we think it makes you smarter.) Why, we’ve even heard reading poetry can contribute to whiter teeth and lower cholesterol. This week we ran across a young artist who applied the do-something-every-day approach to his own craft. In 2012, he committed to (and succeeded at) producing a sketch every day. Gideon Summerfield drew someone in the news each day from January 1 to December 31.
366 sketches later, I’m betting his cholesterol is as low as it’s ever been. See the whole collection on Gideon’s website.
I’m reading Philip Hensher’s The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting, so the exhibit The Postcard Age: Selections from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection currently at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, caught my attention. This collection of postcards from the early 20th century (which focuses on the artwork gracing the front sides of the cards rather than playing to my fascination with the handwriting on the back) “traces how big historical and cultural themes of the modern age—enthralling, exciting, and sometimes disturbing—played out on the postcard’s tiny canvas.”
There’s a line of poetry in The Novelist that says “the universe knew, it knew: you would have need of me.” I had to wonder when this image of the Happy Little Crater on Mercury appeared in NASA’s Image of the Day Gallery if Mercury smiled on behalf of the universe on a particular day, or perhaps many, many days, when a particular someone recognized his or her need for a particular other, over and over throughout history.
It might not give you and your poems the indelible exposure of a crater on Mercury, but Michelle Vinci has launched the Global Twitter Community Poetry Project in the hope of gathering a “great variety of poems and art from the global Twitter community.” Check it out. Who knows? Perhaps the Global Twitter Community has need of you.
If you’re interested as a writer–or a reader–in the future of fiction and self-publishing, Jane Friedman has another great discussion at her site. Considering the current trend toward “a readership that consumes books like candy, or readers mostly interested in finding a next read as quickly and cheaply as possible, ” Friedman points to the days of buying a grocery sack full of 25-cent genre fiction at the used bookstore (every week). She poses an intriguing question with respect to what publishers can realistically sustain: Can a publisher “deliver books like the [critically successful] Behind the Beautiful Forevers if they don’t also profit from [commercially successful] 50 Shades of Grey?”
What I really want to know is, how did they get that picture of books from my office without me knowing?
4 Poetry at Work
Planning business travel in the near future? You might stumble onto a poetry reading in your hotel lobby. USA Today recently reported a trend toward hotels offering in-house cultural events from monthly salons featuring artists, photographers, and writers, to having “writers-in-residence” and book signings. So maybe next time you travel you won’t have to bring along the XBox 360 to keep yourself entertained in the evening.
And if you happen to be traveling next Tuesday and find the desk clerk reading poetry to you upon check-in, be sure to congratulate the employee for her efforts to bring poetry to work. We’re excited about the upcoming Poetry at Work Day on January 15. There are so many ways to celebrate—printing poems for the cafeteria tables, taking a five-minute break to read a poem, inviting a poet to your workplace to speak or read, a feature in your company’s newsletter. Tell us how you plan to celebrate.
I hit what I’ll call a productivity crisis last week. As a small business owner with unpredictable work cycles, and a part-time writer, editor, and web designer, there are days when I have trouble knowing which side of the desk to sit on. When those days happen in multiples, in a row, I know I’m in trouble. I finally put up the whiteboard on my office wall and organized my current projects. Five minutes later, my pen ran dry and I needed a second whiteboard. So I watched this video by Rilla Alexander, Without the Doing, Dreaming is Useless, instead. (The video was not listed on my whiteboard.)
In it, Alexander covers “the classic creative struggle by sharing the story of Sozi—an adorable character who walks us through the arc of an idea. She daydreams, she procrastinates, she sets deadlines, she gets tempted by new ideas, she buckles down and works hard—and finally—she realizes ‘Her Idea.'”
So, yeah. I buckled down and worked hard and erased a bunch of things off my whiteboard. After that, I wrote a bunch more in their place. And then, I had black ink all over my hands, which created a different kind of crisis we don’t need to talk about. Let me just say that I had a very mixed reaction to this very cool (very messy) interactive Dirt Poster which requires that you soil your hands to fully…umm…appreciate.
When I was in sixth grade, I only wrote a couple of the essays the class was required to turn in each week. Mr. Palm excused me from the assignment and gave me his grade book and my classmates’ papers instead. Right, I know. As my son’s Spanish teacher would tell him, “There’s a little something brown on your nose you might want to wipe off.”
I’m thinking in the end it may have been a good thing. Because I don’t remember being taught to write in the five-paragraph method discouraged* in this piece by The White Rhino that suggests a little SOAP and Aristotle will take students farther. (*By “discourage, ” of course, I mean: “If You Teach or Write 5-Paragraph Essays–Stop It!“)
Now, if you’re looking for a little kinder, gentler instruction, we have a different article for you. If someone is going to give me tips from a Bear of Very Little Brain on how to do just about anything, I’m all over it. For instance:
When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.
Where I went to school, that’s a little something called, “It made sense in my head.” Find the rest of W.T. Pooh’s reading and writing advice in Everything I Need to Know About Teaching Literature I Learned from Winnie the Pooh.
Like ghosts become flesh for the first time
we came to the land of the living
tasted the bread
sipped the wine
spoke the language of belonging.
I don’t think I’ve been awake for the ball to drop on New Year’s Eve in Times Square since I was about 12 years old playing Monopoly until we couldn’t keep our eyes open. I used to tell my own kids that what was good enough midnight in London was good enough for us in the Midwest. The New York Times Craigslist Missed Connections feature has a new set of “found” poems on love lost (and found) as the ball dropped this year:
McDonald’s 2:30am 15th St and 6 Ave
I was waiting for my chicken nuggets.
you were in line for the bathroom.
our eyes kept meeting
and we kept smiling
at each other
but i was too shy
to come up to you.
Read the rest of the Craigslist poems on Missed Connections.
The poetry and literary community suffered great losses in 2012, from Jack Gilbert to Wislawa Szymborska to Alasdair Gray. In The Lives They Lived, the New York Times shares a collection of touching tributes to astronauts, business leaders, musicians, entertainers, and poets and writers like Adrienne Rich and Maurice Sendak.
Disney Junior UK has a new set of videos aimed at the Saturday morning cartoon crowd. Well, I guess for these modern kids with satellite and cable, it’s every morning. You’ll enjoy these whimsical poetry videos featuring the voices of Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery and Dr. Who’s Matt Smith.
On the other end of the age (and whimsy) spectrum, we have Alabama’s new poet laureate, Andrew Glaze. I’ll concede that if you’re 92 years old you’re allowed to write poetry collections called Damned Ugly Children. But then, he published that one almost 50 years ago. Even so, don’t expect to hear Michelle Dockery reading it on Disney Junior any time soon. Only the eleventh poet laureate for the state, Glaze brings a long and storied history to the post.
We’ve talked about reading a poem every day and drawing a sketch every day. Last year Jeff Ryan made (and fulfilled) a New Year’s resolution to read a book a day. (Refer back to the discussion of the “cheap read” for a small clue as to how he accomplished this.) If you’re thinking this resolution is for you, you may appreciate a new app that will tell you what books you want to read based on your Twitter stream. (Because, apparently, you don’t know enough about yourself without consulting your own social media outlets.) I have a hunch that for this to work in tandem with the book-a-day goal you’re going to need to Tweet a lot more.
10 Sound n Motion
As someone who works in the business of fire losses (and also is on the brink of one every time I’m in the kitchen), I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch this video when the link was passed on to me with an anonymous note that said, simply, “so we set him on fire… hahahaha!”
Turns out that The Cheerfully Dark Arts of Louviere + Vanessa is a great story of artistic collaboration. And as best as I can tell, no one was truly set on fire.