A Singaporean poet’s tweet caught my eye – ‘Procrastination sung in Major key #whatispoetry’
I was waiting for the bus, and had time to spare.
So I flooded my Twitter page.
‘A lazy short story, a novel abbreviated #whatispoetry’
‘Lines in space, a performance art #whatispoetry’
‘Hidden prose, espionage words #whatispoetry’
‘A maze, a tangled mess, where emotional connection is key #whatispoetry’
‘Intangible broken lines. Lyrical, yet jarring #whatispoetry’
Then the bus came.
I got on and kept tweeting.
‘a bus ride on a crooked path, a journey with an uncertain end #whatispoetry’
‘the language of love, because it too, is too brief #whatispoetry’
‘conversations that should have been, thoughts regretted, words not uttered #whatispoetry’
‘the wind running its fingers through the trees #whatispoetry’
‘dancing words, each line a broken melody #whatispoetry’
‘the long wait, the futile search, the constant past that lurks #whatispoetry’
The Singaporean poet kept on tweeting as well, and I thought it was a lovely literary way to think about poetry on the go. As I tweeted, I reflected on what poetry was to me. Why I first fell in love with it in school. How I felt when I lost my entire poetry collection at 17 when my 386 computer crashed. How I feel when I read excellent poetry.
I think a similar activity, in which students talk or write about what poetry is in 140 characters or less might be an activity worth doing with more advanced students of literature, maybe as a warm-up or to open a discussion on what poetry is.
Some of us might be familiar with Angeline Yap’s poem of the same name, ‘What is Poetry’, which I think could be distributed after the above activity and analysed critically.
I’ve typed out Yap’s poem below, for you to enjoy. It’s from a 1977 book entitled ‘Singapore Writing’, edited by Chandran Nair.
What is Poetry
What is poetry
But the music of the night
Violation of its silence
Yet in harmony
With its darkness.
To the shadows of the night
Be one with the music.
What is poetry
On pages that do not listen.