December 27, 2011
D: I’m a stay-at-home dad, so my writing process for anything involves simply finding time to sit down and type…or even to jot things down on the notecards I always carry with me. Could be naptime or a time when the children are happily playing together or after bedtime…in among all the housework and such. A quick few words in between loads of laundry or while the rice is cooking. I’ve developed the habit of being able to write without needing any specific rituals or time blocks so that I can write even when I only have a couple of minutes.
tm: What were some of your inspirations for these three haiku?
D: To be honest…I sat down thinking, “I want to write some twitter haiku.” In fact, it was specifically speculative fiction-influenced twitter haiku that I wanted to write. That makes it sound somehow less romantic than we like to think creative writing should be. We have this image that true art should come from a cut vein, something demanding to be expressed. Great art definitely can, and there are times when my writing more closely resembles that image. But I’m a firm believer in the kinds of experiments of Italo Calvino and the Oulipo Group, where specific self-imposed rules and structure can be one way to access that source of art as well. Formed poetry of any kind certainly draws from that same sense of structure-leading-to-art.
So with that long-winded intro, for these haiku (and a number of others I wrote at the same time), I thought about a variety of quintessential speculative images and then riffed off those for how those images might fit a haiku sort of form.
tm: Are there any aspects of writing haiku that you find challenging? How do you overcome these challenges?
D:…no? That sounds arrogant, and I don’t mean to be flippant. Haiku (twitter-based or otherwise) are certainly a unique form of writing, yet the challenges that I have with them are the same as the challenges I face with any writing, whether it’s a novel rushed through in the month of November, a short story set in space, or a free-form poem about immigration: finding the time and inclination to write it. So when I want to write some twitter haiku, I might read some Basho, read some of the poets and zines I follow on twitter, take a peek at the daily haiku app I recently downloaded…and then play around with words and images to see what I can fit together.
tm: What advice would you give to other writers on twitter haiku?
Read the haiku masters to understand how they use the form. And let yourself play, let the words play off each other, off assumptions, off rhythms and sounds…but the key to haiku is the surprising image, the way the poem presents the image and then gives you that nudge to look in deeper, to sense the emotion that the image evokes for the poet.
June 24, 2011
This Author Showcase features S. Kay, @blueberrio, and trapeze magazine’s first serial publication. In this interview I have asked S. Kay how she created her serial, “Survival Media.” Enjoy!
S: When Trapeze chose me for its Author Showcase and selected three stories, they were quite different from each other. I thought I’d like to do something more cohesive. It was also an opportunity for people to read several stories over a fairly short amount of time, allowing them to stay fresh and work sequentially. It was a good fit.
S: Definitely. Each story in a serial has to stand alone, since a person reading the one at the end might not have read earlier stories on previous days. Although they do progress and are better as a whole, the parts must be strong, and I’ve approached each much as I would any other story.
S: Aside from 5 minutes versus 5 years, a novel is meant to flow in one reading while in a Twitter serial, parts are meant to stand alone. There are similarities with using larger arcs and subplots, and being able to add more depth and detail. But even the most complex Twitter serial doesn’t provide the same immersive experience as writing a novel, among the most difficult things to create.
S: Not for me, although I can see how it might be for some writers. I personally prefer to write a story in a single tweet or publication, to be disciplined with constraints. I like the challenge. In a Twitter serial or Twitter novel, the tendency is to expand and sprawl, using a tweet for a line of dialogue, for example. I’ve tried to avoid that by writing a small mosaic of stories that stand alone, while remaining linked. I hope they succeed.
March 26, 2011
Reuben Hinman @Scificomedyguy is a practicing pacifist that trains baby seals in the art of nuclear warfare.
t m: Tell us about your writing style. How do you construct twitter fiction?
R: My writing style is as varied as I am. I like to write all sorts of things, humor, science-fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, thriller, mystery, feel-good stories, no genre is safe from me. Although in general my style depends on what I’m writing. When I’m writing a humor story, I focus on descriptions and depict mundane life, characters, or beliefs in a silly way, or if I’m writing a sci-fi adventure, I try to include as much action and plot development as fast as I can while keeping the story rolling.
I construct twitter fiction a lot like a one-liner joke, I do a quick set up, and quickly follow up with a punchline.
t m: What first inspired you to write twitter fiction?
R: Right now I am a graduate student that is working as a full time statistical analyst. So as you can imagine I don’t have much time to write. When I first found a twitter fiction story, I was excited because it allowed me to explore my hobby while keeping up with a busy schedule. I also was inspired because twitter fiction lends itself to my favorite genre of writing, humor.
t m: Do you write anything besides twitter fiction? If so, how do you transition from one style to another?
R: I write all sorts of things. I have written books on gambling, and fiction that ranges from flash to full length novels. As far as style goes for short stories I focus more on characters and quick interactions, while longer works allow me to create intricate plots and write in such a way that it allows a reader to immerse themselves in the written world and its characters.
t m: What advice would you give to other writers who have never heard of twitter fiction?
R: I would tell them to write it like I did. Sit down, think of a really short scenario, and write a really short story about it. Just make sure to keep it under 140 characters. Other than that, I would tell them to do what I always tell writers that are just starting out to do. Have fun, and write because you want to, not because you have to. 98% of good writers never get professionally published, so don’t let that hinder you. Writing is an art that should be practiced regardless of whether or not anyone else is reading. It is something not only good for the soul, but it also helps you gather your thoughts and makes you more focused. Also if you are a sadistic writer like me, it gives you an outlet to create all of those weird ideas you’ve got floating around in your head!
February 24, 2011
Deborah Walker @deboree lives in London, with her partner Chris and her two lovely, yet distracting young children. It took her a long time to start writing, but now she’s started she can’t seem to stop.
t: Tell us a little about your writing style.
dw: I write science fiction, fantasy and horror — poems and short stories. I write every day. Writing everyday builds up a muscle in your mind. I get itchy if I don’t write every day.
A story or a poem will start from a seed. This might be a prompt from an editor (I enjoyed writing tweets for Tweet the Meat) or it might be sparked by reading another writer’s work. Or, I’ll become interested by something that occurs in real life. I visited the Chiltern Downs on a very foggy day, yesterday, and saw the prehistoric barrows obscured by mist. Wow – that’s what I call a seed of an idea.
Once I have the seed I always do some research on the subject, usually on the internet, or sometimes I’ll go to the library and get a book.
I’ll start to write a poem without any idea of where it is going. As I write images will occur to me. A poem will be drafted in one sitting. If I’m writing micro poetry I’ll complete around five first draft poems in one sitting.
Then I like to rest the poem, maybe a day, maybe longer. On subsequent drafts, I’ll polish. I’ll change the words or the line order, refine the imagery, and with micro fiction adjust the words and syntax to meet the constraints of 140 characters. With poetry I might dip into Roget’s online thesaurus to find the perfect word. I work until I reach a point where the piece feels finished to me, and then it’s off to submission and on to the next piece.
t: What inspires you to write a micro poem over a “full length” poem?
dw: The most important thing for micro poetry for me is audience and accessibility I like the fact that micro-poems are published on twitter. I subscribe to all the twitter zines, and I enjoy a small taste of poetry in my twitter soup. I like to think of my readers doing the same.
The shortness of the form means that micro-poems are very satisfying to create. I edit until I have a sense of completeness, whether that be a short story or poem. That feeling comes a lot easier in a 20 word poem that it does in a 5000 word story.
Twitter length is suited to publishing haiku, and I enjoy haiku very much: the ‘aha moment’, capturing a moment and forming that moment of revelation in the reader’s mind. I think of my prose tweets as micro-poems. They often contain poetic elements such as imagery, rhythm, repetition. I’m publishing poetry in a sneaky way; the reader might not know they are reading a tweet poem.
t: How do you start a twitter poem?
dw: When I’m in the mood to write micro-poetry I go to my favourite twitter sites and read some poems to set me into twitter mode. I’ll have some ideas, some seeds roiling in my brain. All I need to do is unhinge my mind. I find that if I know that I’m writing micro-poetry, I naturally conform to the length. Occasionally a micro-poem will escape the constraints of a tweet and I’ll transform it to a larger work. Just as, occasionally, I’ll edit a longer poem to twitter fiction.
t: Are there any aspects of writing micro literature that you find challenging? How do you overcome those challenges?
dw: It sounds awfully arrogant, but no. I just love writing micro-poetry. I have so many ideas. I could write a half a-dozen micro-poems right now. Ideas make ideas. They spawn like serpents, seamlessly, onto the screen of my mind.
Writing at this length has never been difficult for me. Some of my writer friends might say. “How can you possibly get something meaningful into such a short form?” They are amazed, much in the same way that I’m amazed that they can enjoy writing at novel length. Micro-poems are a communion. They are dependent on the reader to construct meaning. I think the brevity can be very beautiful: a glimpse of something special, the smallest taste of emotion. A revelation can be profound, even if it is half glimpsed, but it is not diminished by this succinctness, it is enhanced, a small seed that unfolds into the reader’s imagination.
November 25, 2010
Michael Donoghue’s @mpdonoghue twitter fiction has appeared in trapeze magazine and other twitter fiction sites. Some of his “longer” work can be found in Short, Fast and Deadly. He loves infomercials, people watching and daydreaming.
tm: What inspired you to start writing twitter fiction?
M: I stumbled upon Thaumatrope and my brain promptly exploded. Here were entire stories in a sentence or two. Some weren’t even proper sentences. Fragments! But in some of those fragments there was a whole experience. I was hooked.
Plus the kitchen tiles needed grouting and the deck resurfacing. When the question becomes “write or grout,” writing is always going to win.
tm: What drew you to the speculative genre?
M: Find nowhere on the map. Got it? So now, keep going. Are you there yet? Now, beyond THAT place, there’s where I grew up. When you’re a kid in the middle of oblivion, with miles to roam, the place you tend to travel most is inside your head. I don’t think that’s ever left me.
tm: Describe your writing process, how do you write a twitter story?
M: Hemmingway said that writing is easy, “All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” He was wrong of course, but only because nobody uses a typewriter anymore. I’m no Hemmingway, but the process, for me and many others I suspect, is still the same.
You come up with in idea, maybe it’s a remark you overhear, something you’ve read, or an interaction you see, it really doesn’t matter how it comes to you.
Then translating that idea into 140 character story – difficult. Sometimes it gushes out, like rainwater out of a drainpipe and – bam – it’s done. Perfect.
But most often it’s like a scab that you just keeping picking at for a week before it you finally pull it off.
tm: What is the hardest thing about writing twitter fiction?
M: Rejection. Rejection. Rejection. “Why didn’t they like that story? It was the best story ever written. No it wasn’t, it was the worst. An abomination to the English language.” *hangs head in shame* “Pointless. Give up. I’ve got no talent whatsoever . . . Wait! What if I reverse the POV, rearrange these three words and…”
October 26, 2010
Stephen V. Ramey @svramey writes wrongs at the New Castle. Find his blog at http://stephenvramey.wordpress.com. His work has appeared in trapeze magazine on multiple occasions. To conclude October, he has agreed to share his thoughts on twitter fiction.
tm: Tell us a little about your writing style and how you construct a story.
SR: Sometimes it begins with an image, more often with a sentence flashing through my thoughts. The challenge then becomes adding a sense of movement to the piece. Sometimes this means inverting the inciting image in some way, other times it’s a matter of thinking in plot terms: beginning, middle, end. On occasion, I will find an evocative line in a short story I’ve written and lay that out on the twitter table for dissection. For every twitter story I place, there are two or three that do not work out. One thing I do religiously is revise. I don’t think a single twitter story has gone out without at least three or four wording rearrangements, word substitutions, or complete rewrites. The first attempt is usually NOT genius, in my experience, though it often contains a grain of something worth pursuing.
tm: What made you decide to start writing twitter fiction?
SR: Failure. I took a course in flash fiction writing from the good folks at Flash Me Magazine. One of the exercises was to write three twitter fictions. I failed miserably. No one understood them, no one felt moved by them, and no one had constructive criticism for making them stronger. Since I don’t like failing, I kept trying…and trying…and trying. Ironically, I’ve since placed two of these three twitter stories with respected markets, but it was a desire to overcome failure that pushed me to that end. Nowadays, I mainly write twitter fiction as a diversion from larger projects. I love the challenge of the process. Compressing a story experience into 140 characters? How cool is that?
tm: What is the difference between “genred” fiction and “literary” fiction?
SR: In the simplest terms, literary twitter strives for a sense of emotional resonance, while genre twitter seeks to invert or expose an idea. Many strong twitter stories are crafted in the gray area between these poles. My work tends toward the genre end of the spectrum, but I do try to incorporate a literary sensibility. I still recall reading an article in Writers Digest many years ago advising writers to pay attention to rhythms in their prose. That opened my eyes to an entire new dimension and I’ve not been the same writer since. I also read an interview with William Gibson, and his assertion that his gift to genre was to bring literary technique to science fictional idea. I found that encouraging. I guess you could call me transgenred, a literary soul trapped within a genre thought process.
tm: What is your favorite genre to write in twitter?
SR: Horror is easiest, because it’s fairly easy to bludgeon dark sap from an innocent root. I find Science Fiction most challenging because I’m not really an idea guy by nature. Consequently, Science Fiction is my favorite genre to attempt, because I fail so often.
September 25, 2010
S. Kay is a talented twitter fiction writer. Here are her 140 character thoughts on twitter fiction.
tm: Tell us about yourself and what you like to write about?
S: Lately I only do microfiction (SF/horror/literary), but did write a novel and published short stories and poetry. I’m also a pro blogger.
tm: Why do you write twitter fiction?
S: Microfiction’s great because it’s fast to write, publish, and read. It’s a challenge as a new literary form, and suits my writing style.
tm: Do you remember the first twitter story you read? What was memorable about it?
S: I don’t remember the first story I read, but @Outshine was my first twitfic zine. I loved the concept and started writing it.
tm: What do you think is the most important element in a twitter story?
S: The twist at the end after a vivid setup. It needs to be strongly evocative, quickly, then move a corner and be unpredictable but strong.
August 26, 2010
As we close August I present to you the works and thoughts of Carma Lynn Park.
Carma Lynn Park @carmapoet has been reading/writing science fiction and fantasy for (mumble, mumble) years. She is currently working on image-poems with her collaborator. Along with her thoughts on twitter fiction and poetry, she shares three image-poems titled: Poppies, Reading the Palm and Snowfall Blooming. The poems are transcribed below the image.
As always, thank you so much for reading!
Jessica Otto, Editor
tm: Tell us more about yourself, what you write and your writing process.
C: I can’t imagine myself not writing. For the past several years I’ve tried to write a little every day or almost every day. Sometimes, though (as in the past few weeks) I get caught up in deadlines, and work (or a powerful desire for sleep) pushes writing aside.
I write short fiction and poetry. I’ve tried to write novels, but either they flicker and die or they transform into short stories. Long doesn’t seem to fit the shape of my brain.
Lipstick red mouths
open around black-tongued stamens
for a death kiss
tm: What inspires you to write micro fiction?
C: My experience writing poetry has given me a passion for compression. This has seeped into my fiction, and I enjoy writing flash fiction and micro fiction, although from time to time I generate longer works, up to 12,000 words.
Another motivation is saving time. I edit and edit my work, and the shorter the story, the less time the polishing and buffing process takes.
Reading the Palm
Sweat and dirt and blood
carve creases in the palms;
head line; heart line; life line.
tm: How did you discover twitter literature, and what was your first reaction to the genre?
C: Let me see, how the heck did I discover twitter literature? I was reading Duotrope’s Digest (“an award-winning, free writers’ resource listing over 3000 current Fiction and Poetry publications” at http://www.duotrope.com), and came across Outshine as a twitter publication.
It was an intriguing concept, twitter fiction, but I was skeptical. How could you possibly tell a story in 140 characters or fewer? But I saw some examples, and began to try it, and yes, it can indeed work.
Canvas and colors.
Flowers are still opening
while the snow drifts down.
tm: What advice would you give to other writers about creating twitter literature?
C: Each word counts. Seek out punchy ones, especially verbs.
You’re not going to have the space to develop a character.
Many twitter stories focus on interesting situations, often with a twist – a reversal of expectations. Think O. Henry or Saki (H.H. Munro).
tm: Thank you so much!
July 27, 2010
Hello wonderful readers!
Firstly, I would like to thank you all again for reading this little zine and for loving micro fiction
Secondly, because I believe twitter fiction doesn’t have enough press, I have decided to dedicate the last Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday of each month to one of our writers.
Without further ado, we end July with Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé!
Based in Singapore, Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé has edited more than ten books and co-produced three audio books. He also works in clay.
tm: Tell us more about yourself. When did you start writing?
D: I’ve always been a visual person, and approach texts with that breadth of ken and sensibility. My mother recounts how I could, at an early age, complete puzzles intuitively and quickly, even when she had turned them upside down. Never got the point of titration or dissection in lab. Never mastered vectors or complex numbers in math. A school chum chastised me for not being able to substitute the variables in as elementary an equation as e=mc2. Strangely, I totally understand why Mariah Carey titled her album like so two years ago. It seems that in the natural inland of a poem, numbers and jargon suddenly come to life, to make complete sense to me, thank goodness for Kristeva’s Language The Unknown: An Initiation Into Linguistics.
I wrote and illustrated a great deal, adopting different editorial capacities – from secondary school right through university – before I started writing features for magazines as a journalist. I was always a voracious zine reader. Details, Esquire, National Geographic, Newsweek, Time, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar – all of which, those days in Singapore, had to be purchased in person at the store. There’s also the breathtaking Ray Gun, a trailblazer in the mid-90s for experimenting with design and typography in a mainstream glossy. My later work as an editor of books and audio books gave me invaluable experience, engaging with astonishing writers, designers, sound engineers, musicians, all unbelievably talented.
For a laugh, I think my early disinclination towards learning the keyboard has translated into full-blown technophobia in after-school computing classes in the early days of floppy disk drives and dot matrix printers. I’m still traumatised, hence my peculiar marvel at the Twitter phenomenon, despite so many people telling me how ridiculous I am, how prepaleolithic. My first poem was something about a pomfret, which sneaked its way into a poem I wrote in 2003 about the Ratha Yatra or Chariot Festival celebrated every year in Puri, India, the town also well known for its pomfret.
tm: What are some of the things that inspire you?
D: I try to be all eyes and ears towards my surroundings, even if I drift in and out of scenes, between attentive awareness and spacey rumination. With regard to what inspires me, I’ve talked about this in other interviews. How I’d put it now is afflatus/inflatus lies somewhere between these four writerly remarks:
“A poet is someone who stands outside in the rain hoping to get struck by lightning.”
~ James Dickey
“True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, / As those move easiest who have learned to dance.”
~ Alexander Pope
“If you’re silent for a long time, people just arrive in your mind.”
~ Alice Walker
“Inspiration is to work every day.”
~ Charles Baudelaire
I do try to be disciplined about writing something at least every other day, even if it’s just a line. Below is an assortment of my journals, many gifts and some leather, which may not be the coolest or most socially acceptable thing to keep these days. Boy does James Kaelan – and his Zero Emission Book Project, a thoroughly beautiful idea in my opinion – look hot on the cover of Poets & Writers.
I like how the Italian journal up front and centre brings out Heraclitus – as if as a historian – in the foreground, with a frowning Diogenes on the right, displacing what should have been the focal figures of Plato and Aristotle carrying their own tomes. In this wrap-around cover of Raphael’s School of Athens, Socrates has been sequestered in the book’s spine, Epicurus barely makes it into the back cover, Zeno of Citium doesn’t at all, and the woman philosopher Hypatia is the only remaining figure who gazes out of the fresco, directly at the spectating viewer.
tm: How did you discover twitter fiction?
D: I had been using Twitter’s 140-character requirement to write what I viewed as bite-sized tracts – artist Chuck Close said that “to work with limitations frees intuition” – when I stumbled onto Ben White’s Nanoism. Through Twitter, a lyric poet might be compelled to write a prose poem. Such manner of formal constraint thrills me. And because of the absence of line breaks, the ways in which the caesura is attended to in twitter lit seem more urgent. Restraint occasionally nurtures a veering and whirl towards freedom.
I remember thinking how fabulous to harness the medium for its literary possibilities, with Ben calling the emergent form microfiction, twiction, tweetfic, etc. It triggered in my mind Eric Baus’ The To Sound, and I remember going through a number of book boxes before finally locating it (I’m the sort who tosses in bed if I can’t recall an author or a film or some etymological trivia). Here are lines from Baus’ closing poem within his book, which I feel encapsulate my understanding of twitter lit: “You are the you and. The to sound. The utter the. // If I have to spit out all my teeth to stay in the. // The. Is it all to say the weight of the? // If I could stay lost to sound. If a single eye could say two. // To breathe glass. To unwind a wing.” Ben just organised the splendid Nanofiction Contest for Haiti which enlisted Ethan Canin as a judge, Canin being the fiction counterpart to doctor-poet Rafael Campo. A really wonderful project there.
Ben has kindly published one of my twitter pieces, as did Rose Auslander at unFold. I’ve also recently placed twitter work with Metazen and Nervous Breakdown, with a four-piece suite forthcoming in Cricket Online Review. That trapeze magazine is now open to twitter lit that experiments with the surreal, speculative and absurd, is one more indication of the increasing sophistication and evolution of the form. Never thought twitter lit would possess the capacity for such range given its forced brevity. But here’s my characterisation of twitter lit, in similitudes of the other:
Enactment of Likeness #1: As determined as Ben Whishaw as Keats in Bright Star.
Enactment of Likeness #2: As thrusting and chameleonic as Milla Jovovich in Ultraviolet.
Enactment of Likeness #3: As soil-of-the-earth assured as Joan Allen in Georgia O’Keefe.
Enactment of Likeness #4: Tender as Kevin Spacey in The Shipping News.
Enactment of Likeness #5: And as unforgivingly and unforgivably charming as Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard in A Good Year.
tm: What made you decide to start writing twitter lit?
D: I’ve never found the divide between poetry and prose to be very clear, all the more because I’ve worked in the genres of journalism, ethnography and creative nonfiction, over and above poetry and fiction. That said, these categories are well-entrenched in the publishing business, and one has to be aware of how a text defines or situates itself to be able to find a good home for it. Small presses allow a great sense of inclusion in aid of such creative reimagination and revisioning of boundaries and limits. Last year, I discovered beautiful new offerings by Milkweed Editions, Ahsahta Press, Fairy Tale Review Press from which I discovered Lily Hoang’s amazing take on the I Ching in her book, Changing.
In early 2009 – and I remember this well – I seemed to have tired of working with the long line and long poem, needing to go back to the poignancy, the gravitas of the small poem. I told Cornelius Eady this. I discovered that I sat with a poem longer when the poems kept in a minimalist energy, which is not to say they weren’t appressed, packed with as rich imagery or lyricism as a winding poem of layered artifice. Some wonderful books that I felt had this effect on me: Jon Woodward’s Rain, Michael O’Brien’s Sleeping and Waking, Dan Machlin’s Dear Body, Jen Bervin’s under what is not under. Alan Brilliant’s Five Prose Poems of Escape, which was published by Unicorn Press on January 1, 1980, in 250 copies, all handset, handprinted and handbound by the author. James Hoff’s Ten More Poems. Surprisingly Albert Goldbarth’s “The Red Shift”, with its seven couplets, in his book Beyond. Even more surprisingly, Derrida’s Monolingualism of the Other; or, The Prosthesis of Origin, translated by Patrick Mensah. And heartwarmingly, Thomas Keating’s The Human Condition: Contemplation and Transformation, a lovely treatise of a book given to me by a cherished friend and house mate when I stayed in Somerville, Massachusetts. All these books share the concentrated and intense energy of what twitter lit represents for me.
I just read John Metcalfe’s New York Times article on Twetiquette, how guardian grammarians seem to be up in arms regarding non-words and full capitalisation, both making me think of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake and Daniel Bailey’s The Drunk Sonnets respectively. Both books are stellar creations. Offbeat, grand, undaunted. I wonder how these twitter wardens would feel about the freedoms creative writers take with the form. What might their views be on the freestanding materiality of language, of a language made strange and acutely self-aware of that strangeness?
In the spirit of creating something fitful and quirky, I’m going to humour myself now, and create a distinctly Singaporean poetic form (perhaps the first ever), much like how the four-lined dodoitsu remains quintessentially Japanese. Paradiddle and drum roll please, here’s welcoming the world’s first “asingbol” in its own showboat pageantry:
the asingbol is a dry lick, not peanut or lard or mere printed music – a canzone flying, face half-lit like a tiger bittern, limber barline.
It is composed of exactly 140 characters including spaces. Written as a single clause, all the words are not capitalised, with the sentence always end-stopping on a period to emphasise its statement of exposition and assertion. The asingbol attempts the near impossible – to be completely literal, at the points of its making and its subsequent reading, devoid of irony or metaphor as if to make disappear the hyperbole altogether. It is written like a dictionary entry espousing a single definition. It is also incapable of being read as symbolic. It celebrates the text as pure object.
tm: Tell us about your twitter writing process. How do your stories happen?
D: I have reams of scribbling in my journals that haven’t been typed up, much less properly crafted into poems or stories for publication. Some of my twitter pieces have come from such excavation, an intimate process of small discoveries much like opening an old, strapping Chinese apothecary chest of drawers. These are revisits, reconstructions. Working in twitter lit has sometimes felt like the delicate work of cartography – always having to weigh ideas of scale, proportion, theme, narrative as direction or rhythm, detail, signposting, proper naming, which twitter with which to begin the story arc. All wonderful and time-consuming. Makes me think of my dream home, one that economises space through its transformation and multifunctionality.
Check out just such an architectural work of genius. Also makes me feel like Louis Streitmatter’s A New Map of America, which I just received from awesome PANK editors Matt Seigel and Roxane Gay.
Can every trope be a retelling and morning coat of another? I feel my narratives speak to each other because they tend to reckon and gather something from each other, even if only subconsciously, as if one were Orpheus and the other, one of the nine Muses. Here are two stunning renderings of Orpheus in paint (the one of Orpheus with Eurydice by Michael Putz-Richard, and the other in the middle, whose artist escapes me). On the right: my rough sketch of Paul Celan as Orpheus, a preparatory drawing for what would have been a ceramic sculpture, hand-built and glazed in varying browns and yellows. I illustrated it in my favourite hand-made leather journal from Selkie Bindery in New Hampshire.
I, however, haven’t been able to find the time to sculpt this piece no matter how much I adore Celan’s work (and I truly do). So, as a replacement, I’ve inked the succedaneum image below, done to commemorate Paul Celan’s 90th birth anniversary + 40th death anniversary in 2010 + 10 words isolated from his poem “The Jars” (“COUNT the almonds, / count what was… and kept you awake”) = this twitter penmanship I created, an excerpt of 140 characters from Celan’s poem “The Syllable Pain”. I hope everyone enjoys this little retrogression to see what twitter looks like when returned to ink on the page.
The contributions of Twitter to news is already being discussed seriously as with James Poniewozik’s Time article “Twitter Lit: A New Creative Outlet”, which mentions the book Twitterature reducing literary classics into digestible tweets the way that stippled puffin on its cover tweedles through Penguin bubbles. A leaf from Poniewozik: “Because Twitter lit is immediate and telegraphic, it’s suited to social commentary. Because it’s first-person, it’s a natural for parody; fittingly for a service named for a bird noise, Twitter attracts mimics and mockingbirds.”
Then all there would be left for Twitter to truly be a force of nature is for the art world to fully embrace it. Can Twitter be seen through its sfumato – how colour alters within a canvas – or better yet, as kinetic art as if one could only properly appreciate tweet as lit when it exists in movement, across differential narratives borne of disparate vocal registers, from beyond the dialogue? In its simplicity, is Twitter merely Minimalism like Dan Flavin’s repetitive fluorescent tubes? In its milking of mass media, is it derivative of Sensationalism? And will it ever have the mega-wattage of a Damien Hirst?
When James Taylor starts singing “How Tweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)”, you know Twitter might have arrived, somewhat penetrating popular levels of social consciousness. Other great cover possibilities: “Bittersweet Faith” by Bitter : Sweet. “Tweet Surrender” by Sarah McLachlan. “Tweet Thing” by Mary J. Blige. Wouldn’t work as “Swing Low Tweet Chariot” but what a kick if Alvin and The Chipmunks trilled and shrilled a cover of “Tweet Tweet Smile” by The Carpenters. Along with that, let’s see more nano calories and nano egos in the world.
After that, all Twitter would have to do is become a bit like the Greek “pharmakon”, which harbours as varied meanings as poison and cure, the way Derrida noticed in his reading of Plato’s Phaedrus. If the word “Twitter”, without the crutch of prefixes or the portmanteau or intertextuality, can liberate not just opposing, but multifarious yet inexplicable meanings, it will imagine from within itself a lattice of cantilevers, like a thrash and waggle about a fulcrum, enough to give it some longevity. And maybe a bit of literary history.
tm: Thank you so much for your time.