To Tweet, To Who…..or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Hive Mind

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Poetry appearing on this page was produced with the generous support of artsACT

So. On 23 May 2011, I discovered Twitter. Well…not ‘discovered’ so much as ‘actually began using and enjoying’. 

Right now you are either thinking ‘I can barely handle Facebook, get thee behind me’ or ‘sad Gen X dinosaur, you only beat Jerry Seinfeld by a few weeks, and by Christmas it will be just you and him tweeting at each other because everyone else will have shifted over to Google+’

 Bear with me please, both groups. I promise there will be funny jokes further down.

 So why am I bothering to write this down and share it on the interwebs, more than five years after the Twitter site first launched? Because I am blown away by the fact that the Twitterverse is much much better than I thought it would be, and I want to take a moment to record that fact before it goes the way of Usenet and Commodore 64s. Like many non-Tweeps, I had thought it was just for pre-teens who wanted to know what Justin Bieber picked out of his nose yesterday. Instead, I have found:

  •  In two months I have made dozens of new contacts in my fields of interest (poetry, autism, books, literature, social comment and people who write funny stuff). Many of these people live overseas and I have never met any of them (or their friends), so this is networking and sharing I could not do very efficiently on Facebook, and could do even less efficiently on the wider internet via laborious time consuming searches. Twitter is searchable by conversation topic so it is easy to find and ‘follow’ people talking about things you are interested in.
  • Suddenly I feel like I am ahead of the news, rather than hopelessly behind it like most parents of young children. I was all over John Birmingham v Bob Ellis, Geoff Lemon v the Carbon Tax Whingers, Noni Hazelhurst and GTF to Sleep v YouTube, and The Bloggess’ Giant Metal Chicken well before the ‘mainstream’ media. ‘Slipstream’ media, more like it.
  • Limiting posts to 140 characters is *great* discipline for a writer.

 It has even started to influence my poetry. There are already a gazillion Twitter poets (see this New York Times article from March of this year) so I do not pretend to any great originality there. But it is new for me, and it is fun squeezing things down into such a tight space. I find it makes for very very spare and (occasionally) hard hitting micropoetry. Also I like how the #hashtag (a way of manually tagging the topic of the tweet so other Twitter users can find and join the conversation) adds another dimension, working like a commentary or postscript (or preamble or title) to the actual poem.

To illustrate, I’m going to finish with the complete Tworks of @MelindaLSmith, micropoet. Enjoy, comment below, and if you are also a Tweep then come follow me. I promise to follow you back 🙂

Twitter Poems by @MelindaLSmith

Autism poems

my boy perches on the pool’s edge/flapping his wet hands/people are staring/he sees only me, and grins:/’I caught an imaginary trout’ #ASD

#micropoetry #ASDparenting #firsteverjointsleepover Both sons away tonight/after 7 years/I don’t recognise this quiet/or this calm

Boy-Girl poems

@Twaiku_Poetry: If she says she doesn’t like poetry, run #micropoetry #advice #lifelessons
.@Twaiku_Poetry: if she says she *is* a poet, run faster #micropoetry #lifelessons #youaintnoboyfriendsuckayoumaterialnow

#divorcepoem they say this too shall pass/ – passing is no good to me / I just want him back like he was / before he betrayed us

your electricity / prickles and hums / I ache to close the circuit / but I dare not / flip the switch #micropoetry

#aubadeyourselfbastard you don’t tell me this is goodbye/but I hear it in the stutter, the buzz/of your zip closing #micropoetry

Moving house poems

#realestatepoem He said, ‘We’ll uplift your home/onto the internet’/- but then/ this hole in the ground/will look nothing like the pictures

#realestatepoem2 seven years / of divots and small fingerprints / this fresh paint / claims they never happened

Random poems

What can 140 characters hold? News of near misses, small wars, large arguments; the singing of bullets, the murmur of hearts? Such birdsong!

bottle of red / half empty / – or hangover / half full ? #micropoetry #koanp1sstake #toooldtodrinklikethisanymore

#inthenightkitchen #micropoetry the fridge makes small sighs/testing the silence/the central heating rumbles and sings/you are not alone

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Not the Botany Bay song

artsACT

Poetry appearing on this page was produced with the generous support of artsACT

A bit of fun this week. Try singing the draft poem / song below to the tune of ‘For we’re bound for Botany Bay’ (an old Australian popular song about the convict days, for those of you from other countries). 

The thing that got me started writing this little ditty is the thought that, in my humble opinion, having a child with autism is not so much like a trip to Holland, as like being hauled against your will to an inhospitable wilderness with a bunch of strangers, dumped there and left to survive on short rations and daily floggings.  You make friends with your fellow prisoners, you adapt, and after a few years you can even see how to make a life for yourself in this strange new land – but you can never go home again…

Anyway, not meaning to get all depressing or anything – the following is meant to make you laugh, as well as say a few things ASD parents and carers are not ‘allowed’ to say. Enjoy, and comments welcome.

Not the Botany Bay song

         : A Sea Shanty for ASD Parents and Carers

Farewell to the high life forever
Farewell to my suits and my heels
For my child’s on the autism spectrum:
my career juggernaut’s lost its wheels.

Singing echo-lay, echo-lay, la-li-a
Singing meltdowns as public disgrace
Singing though we might live in Australia
It can seem we’ve been shot into space.

There’s the doctors, the psychs and the speechies
There’s the OTs and physios too
Yet not one of these qualified specialists
knows what we poor parents go through.

Singing maybe this thing is contagious
Singing I used to think I was fine
But now all of my best friends are therapists
– or they’re parents of children like mine.

‘Taint the unscheduled detour I cares about
‘Taint the fact that I still don’t know why
But it feels like we’ve both turned invisible
as the rest of the world rolls on by.

Singing mindfully making the best of it
Singing gazing from gutters at stars
But the heartache and stress and the rest of it
feels like being ‘transported’ to Mars.

Well our home is all plastered with visuals
and we never have guests as a rule
and the unstructured horror of holidays
means we can’t wait to get back to school.

Singing Floortime and Musical Therapy
Singing PECs and Lovaas ABA.
Singing snake-oil and rebirth and mercury
– for those shysters can smell desperate prey.

Then there’s friendships and hygiene and puberty
and employment and learning to lie.
It’s a long row to hoe, that’s for certain sure
– and then who’ll step in when you die?

Singing once I was witty and erudite
Singing once I had beauty to spare
Now I bang on about intervention plans
and I think I’ve got lice in my hair.

So I s’pose we should make ourselves comfortable
’cause the voyage will last many years,
so let’s chuckle along with our cabin-mates
because where there’s no laughter there’s tears.

Singing God Bless our good ship The Spectran
may she weather the storm and the swell
and may all who sail in her land safely
though they’ve hair-raising stories to tell.

(c)  Melinda Smith 2011