Form21

Creating Form140

Posted in form play, how to write by Rose Auslander on September 10, 2009

Form.Reborn of Folded Word Press was an experimental poetry journal that sought to boil the essence of form poems down so that they can fit in a mobile phone text message. 

And so, we began to create Form140.  A working definition is this:  Any poetic flash within 140 characters (including spaces), a/k/a Tweet.  Carl Sandburg’s famous poem “The Fog” would fit.  

But as we develop Form140, we also begin to improvise solutions to Twitter’s inhospitability to traditional line breaks, as in the variations below:  

1.  Equation poems.  These are poems without line breaks, but structured by keyboard signs such as ” -, +,  x, >,< and =.”   A working example is “(you)(me) - rocking horse – pogo stick – skate board = empty nest.”    

2.  Cumulative poems.  These are poems where the first line is one word, the second is two words, the next is three words,  etc. – or the opposite, dwindling down to one word.  The poet  decides on keyboard symbol(s) to use to divide the lines.

3.  Prose poems.  Prose is used, but unlike stories, no beginning, middle and end, or plot is needed.  All that is called for within the 140 characters (including spaces) is a moment of grace.

4.  Any poems involving spinning, flying spins, or the poet’s choice of circular, concentric, mobius strip, or other infinite action. 

With Form.Reborn, we observed that some forms can be tweaked easily to fit within the 140 character limit: haiku, cinquain, limerick, one stanza ballads, one heroic couplet, etc.  Others, on the surface, seem to defy the bounds of possibility: villanelle, sonnet, sestina, etc.  Can they be done with text-speak?  Should they?  Will readers want to track a few lines of long forms at a time until the series is complete?  We published vibrant images and concise thought that readers enjoyed whether they were in a doctor’s waiting room, in line at the grocery store, walking to class, or  . . .

Now, the next chapter begins.  We invite you to help write it.

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