In 1939 Ernest Wright wrote a novel called Gadsby. Not to be confused with The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (from whom I drew inspiration for the way I stylize my own name), Wright’s book was more of an experiment than anything else. He set out to write an entire 50,000 word novel without using the letter E.
I vividly remember stumbling across this book in the 9th grade and enthusiastically showing it to my English teacher. His reaction was the complete opposite from what I expected. Instead of “Wow, that’s interesting” he just rolled his eyes and scoffed in a cynically derisive way and said “No real writer would ever subject himself to self censorship. There’s no way to express yourself within any strict confines, you have to break rules to create true art. Now everybody take out your notebooks, today we’ll be learning how to write a haiku!”
In retrospect this guy probably had half a dozen unfinished manuscripts in his desk and hated the fact that he needed to waste his days babysitting a bunch of teenagers. I just found it so ironic that before any of us were allowed to read our haiku in front of the class, he forced us to listen to about a dozen of his own. And he really seemed to dig his own work. He really thought he was saving the world one haiku at a time and he projected his smug satisfaction in the most despicable way. He had this look on his face like a dog finally getting to pee after an 8 hour road trip, or a sleazy dude discovering that his sleepover buddy forgot her underpants on her pre-dawn walk of shame.
For anyone not following my meandering train of thought, a haiku is a type of Japanese poem with very strict rules. It’s composed of 17 syllables arranged in 3 lines. 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second and 5 in the third. Here’s an example:
Josh is very cool
He’s the coolest guy around
Disagree? You die!
A haiku is an example of writing within the confines of self imposed restrictions. You can choose to break the pattern if you want, but then what you’re writing is no longer considered a haiku.
Now, Josh, what’s your point? What was it that you were trying to say this whole time but just couldn’t, before making us sit through 400 words of build up?
Well aside from the fact that my teacher was a dick, my point is this.
I think tweets are the newest form of poetry.
Much in the same way that your haiku must fit into a very strict syllabic format, tweets are restricted to a maximum of 140 characters.
Most people may not even notice or care since the majority of tweets don’t even come close to using up all 140 characters. The shocking statistics show that 90% of twitter users have fewer than 100 followers, twitter has devolved into a celebrity promtion service. When we non-famous, or normies as they call us, tweet most of what we get is stuff like:
Few people are actually conversing, sharing thoughts or ideas.
It’s no secret I have a problem being concise. For me it’s almost impossible to say what I want to say in 140 characters or less. Almost all of my tweets come in right at 140 character mark, and that’s after 2 or 3 edits to trim the fat or substitute some words with shorter synonyms. I realised, with a bit of that same smug pride my 9th grade teacher had, that it’s quite an accomplishment. I make funny, thought provoking observations and for the most part I do it in EXACTLY 140 characters.
It’s like a 21st century haiku!
Here are some examples of tweets of mine that are exactly 140 characters on the nose:
I literally JUST found out that the MS in MS Paint stands for Microsoft. I thought it was just the “pink bow wearing” sequel like MS. PACMAN
Americans spend 2BILLION more on potato chips than the government does on researching alternative energy sources You really CANT eat just 1
It’s like I’m a living Oscar Wilde play: I’m on 2 meds, one perks up my energy but kills my libido. The other knocks me out but turns me on
Google you are freaking me the fuck out!! Why does every male celebrity name auto-complete with “net worth” and every female’s with “feet”?
Life tip number 37: When suffering from dry elbows so severe you’d do ANYTHING for relief dont resort to using Chapstick. Splurge on lotion
I have embarrassing drool stains on my couch they look all jizzy and won’t come out. It’s ironic ’cause the jizz stains DO come out easily!
Well if that ain’t poetry, then I don’t know what is…
It’s actually entirely possible that I don’t but I’ll stick with my original assessment.
People should have more to say. Twitter is the new venue for experimental writing and we should all take advantage of this everyday opportunity to make some poetry.
…until I get bored and move on to the next thing