Archive for January, 2009

To ASIA: Writer of “300 Love Letters”

January 31, 2009

(Google-Search for “Love Letters”; You’ll find 300 Love Letters)

My heart trembles;
Your colored patches swirl,
Each a love letter
Written by you stranger, girl.

Some go to unknowns.
Some to friends.
Some to those you go home
To at the day’s end.

I wondered Google-
searching for Love letters,
If there were any more pure;
Any more unfettered.

So young. So strong. So spirited.
So wreckless.

Getting off
the sofa of your youth,
I envy you, yet know
I have finally followed that lead.

“Too Silly”, they’d said.
“Too stupid,” they rehersed.
And so I’d waited for years,
Anxiety getting worse,

Until after half a century
I’d walked to light, from shade,
Away from that she
Who’d always been obeyed.

Away, it seemed to some,
From responsibility!
(No, I’m not that dumb!
I still have mouths to feed!)

But wreckless, myself,
I’ve started writing;
Taken my feelings off the shelf,
To tell what I delight in.

Asia! Your love letters moved
Into my soul and mind!
I wondered who was wooed,
Or wowed; who thought you kind.

Did your quilt of patterned color
Bring you joy?
Bring you a lover?
Or was it just a toy

For you to let your emotions out,
In?
If you had to do it over,
Would Asia write them again?

Would you, faceless she,
Probably less than half of my fifty,
Ever think positively
Of sending a love letter to me?

It doesn’t matter.
Because writing you
this love letter
Makes me feel more better!

It moves away some guilt
That maybe hundreds, thousands?
Have felt
Because they didn’t, with their own hands,
Write Asia a love letter.

The world has 300 Love Letters;
and now that I am done,
for worse, or for better,
you, at least, have one.

(A poem! No less!)
And, now that it’s through,
I must confess,
(although I’ve never met you,)
I feel better.

Love, Dave

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Seeing Some1 Again For The 1st Time: a ConTEXTing IMprov Poem

January 31, 2009

Why  does it seem/

(perhaps it’s a dream?)/

that we’ve already met?/

(But we haven’t yet!)/

I think NOW is the time!/

(Now I’m done with my rhyme!)

 

Wisconsin: How’s By You? a love letter

January 30, 2009

Written for November 28, 2008, National Day of Listening…Story Corps

Hey Der! For the last 30 years or so, I’ve lived all over the USA and Europe … but when I come “home”, it’s always ta Wisconsin!

 Da furst ting ya notice when ya gets der, or when youse goes anywhere in Wisconsin, is dat people are genuinely glad ta see ya, even if dey don’t know ya! But if dey KNOW ya, denn it’s “Hey! How come you don’t hello me when you know me so good!?!” Everybody’s smiling atcha, ‘specially if yer wearin’ da Badgers or da Packers or da Brewers  gear or a cheesehead –even if yer not in Wisconsin — dey stop ya on da streets and say “Hey, how’s by you!?!” and you talk for a bit about how yer uncle is in Fonjalac on Lake Winnebago, just down from der Uncle in Oshkosh, or how you was once up on da Lac da Flambeau, up nort der where her grandma lived once. And when you leaves side by each, an’ you sez to each udder, “take ‘er easy”, you really mean it!

Dere’s sometin about struggling together to survive da cold winter and da humid summer mit da carrier mosquites, sometin about how snowmobile suits and swimming suits all makes us equal, (sometimes worn at day same time at da Polar Bear Dip!). And how a beer ‘n brat at just da right moment, wedder it’s at a tree day Polish wedding, or on da breakwater at Sheboygan, maybe while yer dipnetting for Schmelt, or if you’re out tailgating at Lambeau Field, Camp Randall, or out on your dock… well, it just makes us all equal.  Like in Milwaukee, where you can go from Germany to Poland to Mexico to Greece to Ireland to Asia to Israel … an’ never leave da city, and where O’Neil-Josephski is an accepted married name and Gustav Olaf Garcia makes perfect sense! We all get along, because we always have. We came here from different places, we don’t forget where we came from, but we’re together because we want to be here!

 And we’re not ashamed of nuttin! If we wanna dress up in Blaze orange or camouflage  and go ta church in Hartford, and on da way der we hear da “Amazing Grace Polka”, on maybe da country’s only dedicated Polka radio station (proven by da cows to help dem produce better milk, doncha know!), denn dats okay! And if we wear herringbone polyester jackets wit plaid trousers and a white belt because da jacket an da pants are both brown, dats okay, too, yet.

We like to get together, whether it’s a Lutheran Potluck, a Lions Club Lefse / potato pancake breakfast, a Catholic Bingo or Polka mass, a slurry store dedication polka dance, a Rotary Club salmon boil up on da Door County peninsula, a snowmobile rally out in Rhinelander or Monroe, a Glendale neighborhood brat fry, a BBQ and kegger out in LaCrosse or Eau Claire,  or a walleye fry up in Washburn, we wanna be der mit each udder!!

And if da Town of Winneconne secedes from da Union because dey was playing games in Madison and da government screwed up and kept dem off da official tourist map, and becomes recognized by da USSR, Canada, and a host of udder countries as being sovereign and independent, we’re likely to take our boat wit our Merc motor on it and head over der on da Wolf, just up from Lake Winnebago, to help ’em celebrate and eat some sheepshead! Because we know on da way home we can probably find a local dairy in Zittau or Theresa where we can buy some cheese curds so fresh dey still squeak! or some venison summer sausage mit little flecks of garlic in it in Mayville. Or maybe get da greatest dessert on earth, frozen custard maybe by Kopp’s! And den we’ll maybe get some more water fun in at da Dells or up by Hayward muskie fishin’ an so.

Yeah, in Wisconsin we got all dis stuff dat ties us togetter. We drink water from a bubbler. We know da answer to “how dey bitin’?” We wave at da farmer out picking stones. We stop to help people when der car broke down, because we know some day it’s gonna be 20 below and someone will stop and help us. And when we go ice fishin and da guy next doors auger runs outta gas, we let him borrow ours while we set up our wind tipups dat we designed ourselves. Because we know he’s gonna pull out a cold one from Steven’s Point for us from his ice fishing shanty, and let us come in and watch da Packer game on his big screen color TV in der if da perch aren’t bitin’ so good, and maybe play some cribbage or sheepshead wit us later.

Ya, On, Wisconsin! “We like it here!” Der’s a ton to see an do, doncha know. Dat’s why da folks from Chicago always head up nort. But denn dey head home, takin der fancy/schmansy, artsy/fartsy ways wit em… and we stay here, talking mit a funny accent to each udder and we don’t care… because we like each udder! So we smile and wave and say “How’s it?” and answer – and really mean it — :

“Good, how’s by you?!?”

On, Wisconsin!  Come good home.

Here’s the video on YouTube if you wanna watch how it sounds!

Unveiling at Noon: a ConTEXTing Poem

January 29, 2009

Brilliance shall be/

unfolded soon!/

Then you’ll see/

something to make U swoon!/

Something U will both/

read and hear!/

Pleasant 4/

the eye and ear!/

Soon!/

Post noon!

ConTEXTing Poetry: Definition and Discussion of a New Poetic Form

January 29, 2009

ConTEXTing Poetry:

ConTEXTing Poetry is a poem created on a wireless mobile (cell) phone, in an SMS (short message service) application, where either the number pad or, in later instances, a QWERTY keyboard, is used to spell out words and make a poem. That poem is then typically sent to another SMS-enabled mobile wireless phone as a “text message.”

Because it is character-limited (160 characters per SMS), a ConTEXTing Poem is characterized by abbreviations, and by use of the / symbol (as opposed to a hard return) to indicate the end of the line.

This posting represents the first known on-line discussion — and some of the earliest examples — of this distinctive and new form of poetry.

ConTEXTing Poetry is a poetic conundrum, a quasi-literary form forced on society by the limitations of mobile technology. Yet, because of the very availability, mobility and immediateness of its delivery mechanism (that same mobile phone technology), it has the potential of making poets out of all of us, of capturing our most creative and poetic moments as they happen: In a car. On a bus. Walking to the store. To work. To School. Shopping. Eating lunch. Awakening at night.

The fear and danger is that, because of the transient nature of text messages, ConTEXTing Poetry may be lost unless ConTEXTingPoets take steps to save their (largely improvisational) work.

I invite you, ConTEXTing Poet,/

2 save yer samples on web page/

and blog;/

that some day readers may log/

in and recall this new poetic age.

Please feel free to comment and send samples of your own ConTEXTing work. (Yes, you’ll probably have to do as I do: open up your phone and copy what you wrote. And remember! Once you’re on your computer keyboard: No editing allowed!)

What is a ConTEXTing poem? Some of the hallmarks of a ConTEXTing poem include:

  • The poem’s length is confined by the number of characters allowed in one SMS (Short Message Service), so you don’t have to go to the dreaded “SMS 2″ message, which really messes up the meter, the rhythm, and the visual effect of having the poem on one page. (Is it 160 characters? or does it vary by carrier?)
  • That forced length requires the writer to severely edit the stanzas and adjust the meter and rhythm. “I think it’s insane” becomes simply “It’s insane”. “You are crazy!” or “I think you’re crazy” gets clipped into an Italian dialect “U crazy!” “Most ordinary, romantic women” is reduced to “Most women”.
  • Text message abbreviations (”U” for “you”; “2″ for “too”, “two” or “to”; “4″ for “four” or “for”; “yer” for “your” or “you’re”; “r” for “are”.
  • Because a “hard return” forces the poem off the page, line ends are shown by the / mark.

As ConTEXTing poetry becomes more popular, expect some debate on certain items, including:

  • The use of emoticons in ConTEXTing poems. For example, what verbal sounds do : – D or ; – ) make?
  • The use of common text message abbreviations. Is “LOL” pronounced “Laugh out Loud” or “el oh el” (”L O L” with each letter individually pronounced), or “Lawl”? What about ROFL and its extensions ROFLMAO, ROFLMHO, ROFLMBO, etc?? “Rolling On Floor Laughing” or “RawFull” or “R O F L“? And “ASAP”? While older than texting/SMS, it is frequently used. Is it: “A S A P,”, “Ay Sap”, or “As Soon As Possible”.
  • The length as forced by technology. As the technology driving SMS or wireless phone texting expands and improves, will ConTEXTing poetry stay within the early confines of 160 characters? If not, how far can it expand without it losing its identity as an individual and distinct form within the genre? If so, can abbreviations, forced meters, etc., be enforced? Will a writer, unencumbered by the Damoclean fear of the dreaded “SMS 2″ message and the “Characters left” countdown, still resort to the limitations and abbreviations placed on current ConTEXTing poets?
  • The length as forced by carrier or phone (device) limitations. Does every phone on every carrier have a character limit of 160 characters? Are those limitations only ATT? And only on certain phones, but not on others (for example, the Blackberry, iPhone, etc.) If Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and others have different limitations based on cell capacity, packet size, or devices, do those poets become suspect simply because they do not conform to a strict 160 character limitation?
  • If those “freed” poets do conform — to fit the parameters of ConTEXTingpoetry — can they do so without the forced limitations? If they can, then are they above those of us who are forced to stay within the boundaries of technological limitations? Do they become as the Haiku masters, transcending our poetic abilities because of the boundaries and rules they follow not because they have to, but because they want to and can?

Because ConTEXTing poetry is a new form of the poetic genre, these debates — and others — will gain added significance as time goes on. Since I invented the term “ConTEXTingPoetry” to specifically describe a poem written within the confines of a wireless telephone text message, I am as qualified as anyone to opine on these items. As in any academic or creative endeavor, however, I believe debate is healthy, and would welcome other opinions; here are some of mine: (I expect this list to grow as I think about it. Today, January 29, 2009, is the first day that I’ve thought in depth about the literary merits of my discovery!):

Regarding use of abbreviations (ROFL, LOL, etc) in ConTEXTing poetry:

Personally, I think that/

the governing principle should be/

the sender’s individual/

creativity!/

Also, I think as well/

that by the conTEXT/

you can tell/

how 2 pronounce what’s next!

 

In other words, if someone writes a ConTEXTing poem that says:

“He treated you so awful/

it made me ROFL!”

vs.

“He treated you like hell/

and you could tell,/

he was always ROFL!”

the context and positioning of the rhyme schemes previous to the abbreviation in question dictate “what comes next”. In the first example, “ROFL” is clearly meant to be pronounced “RawFull”. In the second, “ROFL” must be pronounced “R O F L”, with each individual letter pronounced so that “L” rhymes with “hell” and “tell”.

Conclusion regarding abbreviation pronunciation: Word placement, rhyme scheme, rhythm and circumstances dictate pronunciation.

——————–

 Regarding the technological, carrier and device limitations which force ConTEXTing Poets into an artificial 160 character (or less?) limit:

Because I invented the term “ConTEXTing Poetry” based on the 160* character limitation of my carrier (ATT), my phone (Sony Ericsson) and the system used (SMS) on ATT’s network, those are the standards which will be set. Any other forms (for example, an ode sent on a Blackberry, iPhone, or even through other service types on my phone (MMS, for example), are not ConTEXTing poems. If they were, what would differentiate them from any other form in the genre? The character limitation, the overshadowing fear of the “SMS2″ message, the palpitations and anxiety caused by the appearance of the “character countdown” as the ConTEXTing poet nears their limits, and the abbreviations and editing required to fit within that limitation — whether real or imagined — are all part of the discipline and experience the ConTEXTing poet must subject themselves to.

*(Note: my character counting on my phone may be incorrect. I will check with ATT to discover if the character count on an SMS is, in fact, limited to 160, if it varies based on the letter width (does a lowercase “l” carry less width than, for example an uppercase “W”? If so, then does writing ConTEXTingpoetry in all lower case allow you a few more characters than if you use uppercase? And would the word “beam” use more character space than the word “lilt”? (and how does that impact the writer, especially during the editing process? Does “a dream” become “1 think” to save a character or 2? More questions to discover! At this point, though, the definition is 160 characters, where a character is any letter, number or symbol.)

Conclusion regarding ConTEXTing Poetry and real or artificial limits: 160 characters maximum (no minimum) on a wireless (mobile) phone device.

——-

Regarding the non-forced limitations which ConTEXTing Poets with superior devices, carriers, or systems (now or in the future) subject themselves to. Does the fact they can, of their own free will, follow those limitations, like Haiku masters, make them “better” ConTEXTing poets?

Better? I’ll opine no. They are fitting words into a numeric limitation, by whatever means needed (except audio/visual/pictorial: not allowed!). I would also argue that they may be in fact missing part of the creative tension caused by the character countdown and the “SMS 2″ message. I wonder if that tension, of knowing by experience that you are nearing the “end”, when the character countdown starts (usually at about 20), and the frustration of having your last stanza end with a multi-syllabic word that fits perfectly into rhyme, meter, rhythm … but is 5 characters too long, so you have to go back and abbreviate and edit… and what if you have already, and the poem is very tight. Do you sacrifice that perfect word? or do you cast away another perfect, though lesser word? Or do you invent something new (if not new to others, maybe new for you?) “@” for “at”, for example! Does that tension exist for poets who are technologically unrestrained by those limitation? And, if not, can they really create ConTEXTing poetry?

I think some ConTEXTing poets will, in the future, be able to bring themselves to a ConTEXTing “Zen” place, where they can artificially create that tension and limitation in their own minds. In other words, they qualify with the restrictions below. I think the ConTEXTing form is too new yet to be able to tell. I know, for me, writing on a wireless laptop keyboard, keeping within an articical 160 character limitation, is nothing like the experience of thumbing a ConTEXTing poem on my Sony Ericsson! However, I will not judge: if it’s 160 character created and sent through SMS on a wireless phone (an important distinction, as noted below), then it qualifies as “ConTEXTing poetry”.

Conclusion regarding ConTEXTing Poetry and artificially-limited poets: 160 characters on a wireless (mobile) phone device. If there is no “forced” limit on the poet’s device, that doesn’t make them a better (or worse) ConTEXTing poet. It merely makes their experience different.

———-

Does ConTEXTing poetry require a wireless phone and SMS sending device? Or can anyone create a ConTEXTing poem based on following the 160 character, / for line break, conventions?

Like the forced character limitations discussed above, part of the tension of the ConTEXTing poetic experience is the frustration and limitation of caused by the device. I, for example, as a writer used to a QWERTY keyboard on a wireless laptop, can type more than 80 words per minute using every finger on both hands. Thumbing a text message on my 1.5 inch by 1.5 inch number pad on my Sony Ericsson, even using T9 and word prediction capabilities, slows me down to about 20 words per minute or less. I literally haveto slow my thought processes and rhyming processes down to match the rate my thumbs can move… and heaven help me if the predictive text puts in “gone” instead of “home”!

The argument could be made that ConTEXTing poetry requires a numeric keypad to really be “ConTEXTing” poetry. Before QWERTY keyboards became commonplace on cell phone devices, I would have agreed. If this description would have been written 3-4 years ago, I would have placed that limitation on it. However, I’m willing to bend a little on this, because I’ve seen that even friends who have QWERTY keyboards are slowed by the in-ability to use all their fingers when sending messages.

True, they don’t have the frustration caused by predictive word or T9 technology, and the requirement to go back and edit “gone” instead of “home”. Nor do they have the requirement to spell out “Less” by thumbing the 5 key three times, the 3 key twice, and the 7 key four times, waiting for a few seconds, then thumbing the 7 key four times again! BUT they do have the “fat thumb” frustration of thumbing two keys simultaneously. and ending up with:

Thje disatyenvcer/xcausredf EResdistqance!
(The distance/caused Resistance!)
It’s an extreme, but valid, example.

 
Conclusion regarding devices which can generate ConTEXTing Poetry: a ConTEXTingpoem MUST be created on a wireless / mobile PHONE device with a limited space keyboard, capable of sending SMS/Text messages.(That’s why it’s ConTEXTing poetry!) That limitation, that forced physical frustration, the lack-of-speed tension, is part of the ConTEXTing poetic experience.

(Interesting question: does the experience become poetic because of the tension and frustration? If so, could we then say that it has become a ConTEXTing Poem poetic experience for the ConTEXTing poet?)

In addition, ConTEXTing poetry requires that the keyboard be physically part of the wireless mobile phone device itself (in other words, a foldout attachable keyboard where the typist can use all their fingers does not qualify!), where the ConTEXTing poet is forced to use only their thumbs or another pair of fingers, but not all of their fingers as they could on a normal computer QWERTY keyboard.

Thus, Blackberries, PDAs, iPhones, etc., as composition instruments, as long as they follow all the other conventions and requirements of SMS/Text Messaging ConTEXTing poetry!

———— Finie: The endof the Initial Blog Discourse on ConTEXTing Poetry:

I started writing this as part of an explanation of a ConTEXTing poem I wrote a friend last night. It became, over the course of the morning of January 29, 2009, the first dissertation of what ConTEXTing Poetry is, why it exists, the parameters, limitations and restrictions of it, and … other random thoughts.
 
 An interesting example:You’ll notice that the example above (within the context of this discussion, where I talk about pronunciation) of ConTEXTing poetry doesn’t fit the requirements! First, (you wouldn’t know this, but it’s a discussion for another time), it was created by me, in ConTEXTing poetry FORMAT, but using my wireless LAPTOP (QWERTY keyboard, all 10 fingers used typing 80 words a minute, therefore not allowed!). (Another interesting thought: Could I have EVER written THIS dissertation in text on my phone? NO WAY! My thumbs would havefallen off!) Second (and a dead give-away that it was done on my laptop), without the character limitation/SMS2 message feature, I had no way of knowing that my character count is around 170 characters. I’ll go back and fix it later… but I’ll leave the original, to make certain people can see the difference and discipline required to fit the ConTEXTing Poem form.

I’m now finished with the first draft of this dissertation. I’m going to post it, edit it and format it later. Because it was originally tied to the “It’s Insane/3? U crazy” poem, I’ll leave it attached to it, BUT will post it as a separate post or perhaps even page, later.

Then I’ll apply for my Doctorate/
(and won’t it be great?)/
As the world’s leading authority/
on ConTEXTing poetry!/
(I think, to prove I’m a nut!/
I’ll create a reward: Two BIG Thumbs Up!)

———-
I’ve had a poet friend who has been following this posting from the original to its final posting at about 12:15 p.m. I avoided calling her or writing her anything for fear of any discussion with her would have a Coleridge/Xanadu impact on me, take me out of the “moment”, and I would lose my thoughts. But, now, I’ve completed this first draft. Shortly before noon I decided to text her a brief “Please wait!” text, knowing I would soon be finished with this dissertation.

Appropriately, it turned out to be a ConTEXTing poem:

Brilliance shall be/

unfolded soon!/

Then you’ll see/

something to make U swoon!/

Something U will both/

read and hear!/

Pleasant 4/

the eye and ear!/

Soon!/

Post noon!

And so ends the first dissertation about ConTEXTing Poetry.

PS: I’d originally called this type of poetry “ConTEXTual”, meaning being in the context of a text message/SMS. However, “ConTEXTual” poetry is a valid term coined earlier to discuss and analyze the significance of a poem in the context of its history, surroundings, meaning, what the poet was thinking at the time, etc. In short, its context.

As a result, I decided (and I think this discussion is better for it), that this poetic form should be called “ConTEXTing Poetry” because textingis an activeverb, so it becomes a much stronger adjective for the type of poetry that it is.!

Note: Other examples of ConTEXTing Poetry can be found on this writer’s blog, primarily under the category: “Romantic ConTEXTing Poetry”

It’s Insane/3? U crazy!: a romantic conTEXTing poem

January 29, 2009

This is an example of a ConTEXTing poem (a term I invented):

 

It’s insane/

how u complain/

that I don’t call./

Instead, 2 poems/

got sent to your home!/

Most women/

r pleased with 1/

but u?/

not even 2/

will do!/

U want 3?/

U crazy!

=====================

What is a ConTEXTing poem? Some of the hallmarks of a ConTEXTing poem include:

  • The poem’s length is confined by the number of characters allowed in one SMS (Short Message Service), so you don’t have to go to the dreaded “SMS 2″ message, which really messes up the meter, the rhythm, and the visual effect of having the poem on one page.  (Is it 160 characters? or does it vary by carrier?)
  • That forced length requires the writer to severely edit the stanzas and adjust the meter and rhythm. “I think it’s insane” becomes simply “It’s insane”.  “You are crazy!” or “I think you’re crazy” gets clipped into an Italian dialect “U crazy!” “Most ordinary, romantic women” is reduced to “Most women”.
  • Text message abbreviations (”U” for “you”; “2″ for “too”, “two” or “to”; “4″ for “four” or “for”; “yer” for “your” or “you’re”; “r” for “are”.
  • Because a “hard return” forces the poem off the page, line ends are shown by the / mark.

As ConTEXTing poetry becomes more popular, expect some debate on certain items, including:

  • The use of emoticons in ConTEXTing poems. For example, what verbal sounds do : – D or ; – ) make?
  • The use of common text message abbreviations. Is “LOL” pronounced “Laugh out Loud” or “el oh el” (”L O L” with each letter individually pronounced), or “Lawl”? What about ROFL and its extensions ROFLMAO, ROFLMHO, ROFLMBO, etc?? “Rolling On Floor Laughing” or “RawFull” or “R O F L? And “ASAP”? While older than texting/SMS, it is frequently used. Is it: “A S A P,”, “Ay Sap”, or “As Soon As Possible”.
  • The length as forced by technology. As the technology driving SMS or wireless phone texting expands and improves, will ConTEXTing poetry stay within the early confines of 160 characters? If not, how far can it expand without it losing its identity as an individual and distinct form within the genre? If so, can abbreviations, forced meters, etc., be enforced? Will a writer, unencumbered by the Damoclean fear of the dreaded “SMS 2″ message and the “Characters left” countdown, still resort to the limitations and abbreviations placed on current ConTEXTing poets?
  • The length as forced by carrier or phone (device) limitations. Does every phone on every carrier have a character limit of 160 characters? Are those limitations only ATT? And only on certain phones, but not on others (for example, the Blackberry, iPhone, etc.) If Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and others have different limitations based on cell capacity, packet size, or devices, do those poets become suspect simply because they do not conform to a strict 160 character limitation?
  • If those “freed” poets do conform — to fit the parameters of ConTEXTing poetry — can they do so without the forced limitations? If they can, then are they above those of us who are forced to stay within the boundaries of technological limitations? Do they become as the Haiku masters, transcending our poetic abilities because of the boundaries and rules they follow not because they have to, but because they want to and can?

Because ConTEXTing poetry is a new form of the poetic genre, these debates — and others — will gain added significance as time goes on. Since I invented the term “ConTEXTing Poetry” to specifically describe a poem written within the confines of a wireless telephone text message, I am as qualified as anyone to opine on these items. As in any academic or creative endevor, however, I believe debate is healthy, and would welcome other opinions; here are some of mine: (I expect this list to grow as I think about it. Today, January 29, 2009, is the first day that I’ve thought in depth about the literary merits of my discovery!):

Regarding use of abbreviations (ROFL, LOL, etc) in ConTEXTing poetry:

Personally, I think that/

the governing principle should be/

the sender’s individual/

creativity!/

Also, I think as well/

that by the conTEXT/

you can tell/

how 2 pronounce what’s next!

 

In other words, if someone writes a ConTEXTing poem that says:

“He treated you so awful/

it made me ROFL!”

vs.

“He treated you like hell/

and you could tell,/

he was always ROFL!”

the context and positioning of the rhyme schemes previous to the abbreviation in question dictate “what comes next”. In the first example, “ROFL” is clearly meant to be pronounced “RawFull”. In the second, “ROFL” must be pronounced “R O F L”, with each individual letter pronounced so that “L” rhymes with “hell” and “tell”.

Conclusion regarding abbreviation pronunciation: Word placement, rhyme scheme, rhythm and circumstances dictate pronunciation.

 ——————–

 

Regarding the technological, carrier and device limitations which force ConTEXTing Poets into an artificial 160 character (or less?) limit:

 Because I invented the term “ConTEXTing Poetry” based on the 160* character limitation of my carrier (ATT), my phone (Sony Ericsson) and the system used (SMS) on ATT’s network, those are the standards which will be set. Any other forms (for example, an ode sent on a Blackberry, iPhone, or even through other service types on my phone (MMS, for example), are not ConTEXTing poems. If they were, what would differentiate them from any other form in the genre? The character limitation, the overshadowing fear of the “SMS2″ message,  the palpitations and anxiety caused by the appearance of the “character countdown” as the ConTEXTing poet nears their limits, and the abbreviations and editing required to fit within that limitation — whether real or imagined — are all part of the discipline and experience the ConTEXTing poet must subject themselves to. 

 *(Note: my character counting on my phone may be incorrect. I will check with ATT to discover if the character count on an SMS is, in fact, limited to 160, if it varies based on the letter width (does a lowercase “l” carry less width than, for example an uppercase “W”? If so, then does writing ConTEXTing poetry in all lower case allow you a few more characters than if you use uppercase?  And would the word “beam” use more character space than the word “lilt”? (and how does that impact the writer, especially during the editing process? Does “a dream” become “1 think” to save a character or 2? More questions to discover! At this point, though, the definition is 160 characters, where a character is any letter, number or symbol.)

Conclusion regarding ConTEXTing Poetry and real or artificial limits: 160 characters maximum (no minimum) on a wireless (mobile) phone device.

——-

Regarding the non-forced limitations which ConTEXTing Poets with superior devices, carriers, or systems (now or in the future) subject themselves to. Does the fact they can, of their own free will, follow those limitations, like Haiku masters, make them “better” ConTEXTing poets?

 Better? I’ll opine no. They are fitting words into a numeric limitation, by whatever means needed (except audio/visual/pictorial: not allowed!). I would also argue that they may be in fact missing part of the creative tension caused by the character countdown and the “SMS 2″ message. I wonder if that tension, of knowing by experience that you are nearing the “end”, when the character countdown starts (usually at about 20), and the frustration of having your last stanza end with a multi-syllabic word that fits perfectly into rhyme, meter, rhythm … but is 5 characters too long, so you have to go back and abbreviate and edit… and what if you have already, and the poem is very tight. Do you sacrifice that perfect word? or do you cast away another perfect, though lesser word? Or do you invent something new (if not new to others, maybe new for you?) “@” for “at”, for example! Does that tension exist for poets who are technologically unrestrained by those limitation? And, if not, can they really create ConTEXTing poetry?

Conclusion regarding ConTEXTing Poetry and artificial limits: 160 characters maximum (no minimum) on a wireless (mobile) phone device.

I think some ConTEXTing poets will, in the future, be able to bring themselves to a ConTEXTing “Zen” place, where they can artificially create that tension and limitation in their own minds. In other words, they qualify with the restrictions below. I think the ConTEXTing form is too new yet to be able to tell. I know, for me, writing on a wireless laptop keyboard, keeping within an articical 160 character limitation, is nothing like the experience of thumbing a ConTEXTing poem on my Sony Ericsson! However, I will not judge: if it’s 160 character created and sent through SMS on a wireless phone (an important distinction, as noted below), then it qualifies as “ConTEXTing poetry”.

Conclusion regarding ConTEXTing Poetry and artificially-limited poets: 160 characters on a wireless (mobile) phone device. If there is no “forced” limit on the poet’s device, that doesn’t make them a better (or worse) ConTEXTing poet. It merely makes their experience different.

———-

Does ConTEXTing poetry require a wireless phone and SMS sending device? Or can anyone create a ConTEXTing poem based on following the 160 character, / for line break, conventions?

Like the forced character limitations discussed above, part of the tension of the ConTEXTing poetic experience is the frustration and limitation of caused by the device. I, for example, as a writer used to a QWERTY keyboard on a wireless laptop, can type more than 80 words per minute using every finger on both hands. Thumbing a text message on my 1.5 inch by 1.5 inch number pad on my Sony Ericsson, even using T9 and word prediction capabilities, slows me down to about 20 words per minute or less. I literally have to slow my thought processes and rhyming processes down to match the rate my thumbs can move… and heaven help me if the predictive text puts in “gone” instead of “home”!

The argument could be made that ConTEXTing poetry requires a numeric keypad to really be “ConTEXTing” poetry. Before QWERTY keyboards became commonplace on cell phone devices, I would have agreed. If this description would have been written 3-4 years ago, I would have placed that limitation on it. However, I’m willing to bend a little on this, because I’ve seen that even friends who have QWERTY keyboards are slowed by the in-ability to use all their fingers when sending messages.

True, they don’t have the frustration caused by predictive word or T9 technology, and the requirement to go back and edit “gone” instead of “home”. Nor do they have the requirement to spell out “Less” by thumbing the 5 key three times, the 3 key twice, and the 7 key four times, waiting for a few seconds, then thumbing the 7 key four times again! BUT they do have the “fat thumb” frustration of thumbing two keys simultaneously. and ending up with:

Thje disatyenvcer/xcausredf EResdistqance!
(The distance/caused Resistance!)
It’s an extreme, but valid, example.

 

Conclusion regarding devices which can generate ConTEXTing Poetry: a ConTEXTing poem MUST be created on a wireless / mobile PHONE device with a limited space keyboard, capable of sending SMS/Text messages. (That’s why it’s ConTEXTing poetry!) That limitation, that forced physical frustration, the lack-of-speed tension, is part of the ConTEXTing poetic experience.

 (Interesting question: does the experience become poetic because of the tension and frustration? If so, could we then say that it has become a ConTEXTing Poem poetic experience for the ConTEXTing poet?)

In addition, ConTEXTing poetry requires that the keyboard be physically part of the wireless mobile phone device itself (in other words, a foldout attachable keyboard where the typist can use all their fingers does not qualify!), where the ConTEXTing poet is forced to use only their thumbs or another pair of fingers, but not all of their fingers as they could on a normal computer QWERTY keyboard.

Thus, Blackberries, PDAs, iPhones, etc., as composition instruments, as long as they follow all the other conventions and requirements of SMS/Text Messaging ConTEXTing poetry!

————
Finie: The end the Initial Blog Discourse on ConTEXTing Poetry:


I started writing this as part of an explanation of a sample ConTEXTing poem I wrote a friend last night. It became, over the course of the morning of January 29, 2009, the first dissertation of what ConTEXTing Poetry is, why it exists, the parameters, limitations and restrictions of it, and … other random thoughts.

 

An interesting example: You’ll notice that the example above (within the context of this discussion, where I talk about pronunciation) of ConTEXTing poetry doesn’t fit the requirements!
First, (you wouldn’t know this, but it’s a discussion for another time), it was created by me, in ConTEXTing poetry FORMAT, but using my wireless LAPTOP (QWERTY keyboard, all 10 fingers used typing 80 words a minute, therefore not allowed!). (Another interesting thought: Could I have EVER written THIS dissertation in text on my phone? NO WAY! My thumbs would have fallen off!)
Second (and a dead give-away that it was done on my laptop), without the character limitation/SMS2 message feature, I had no way of knowing that my character count is around 170 characters. I’ll go back and fix it later… but I’ll leave the original, to make certain people can see the difference and discipline required to fit the ConTEXTing Poem form.


I’m now finished with the first draft of this dissertation. I’m going to post it, edit it and format it later. Because it was originally tied to the “It’s Insane/3? U crazy” poem, I’ll leave it attached to it, BUT will post it as a separate post or perhaps even page, later.


Then I’ll apply for my Doctorate/
(and won’t it be great?)/
As the world’s leading authority/
on ConTEXTing poetry!/
(I think, to prove I’m a nut!/
I’ll create a reward:
Two BIG Thumbs Up!)
———-
I’ve had a poet friend who has been following this posting from the original to its final posting at about 12:15 p.m. I avoided calling her or writing her anything for fear of any discussion with her would have a Coleridge/Xanadu impact on me, take me out of the “moment”, and I would lose my thoughts. But, now, I’ve completed this first draft. Shortly before noon I decided to text her a brief “Please wait!” text, knowing I would soon be finished with this dissertation.

Appropriately, it turned out to be a ConTEXTing poem:

Brilliance shall be/
unfolded soon!/
Then you’ll see/
something to make U swoon!/
Something U will both/
read and hear!/
Pleasant 4/
the eye and ear!/
Soon!/
Post noon!

And so ends the first dissertation about ConTEXTing Poetry.

PS: I’d originally called this type of poetry “ConTEXTual”, meaning being in the context of a text message/SMS. However, “ConTEXTual” poetry is a valid term coined earlier to discuss and analyze the significance of a poem in the context of its history, surroundings, meaning, what the poet was thinking at the time, etc. In short, its context.

As a result, I decided (and I think this discussion is better for it), that this poetic form should be called “ConTEXTing Poetry” because texting is an active verb, so it becomes a much stronger adjective for the type of poetry that it is.!

I’m Sorry That I Didn’t Call: Late Night Email Revolutionary Poetry

January 29, 2009

I’m sorry that I didn’t call.

I didn’t want to bother you at all.
I finished what I said I would;
edited it and made it good.
 
And then, struck by the muse,
I wrote another poem for youse.
It’s posted now, for you to see.
That’s why you didn’t get
no call from me.

You’ll Be Pleased: a late-night IMprov Poem

January 29, 2009

You’ll be pleased to know

I did not go to bed

but instead

did what I said I would.

 

In times past

that meant something other;

some to-be-completed task,

a chore that was a bother.

 

But with you it’s a challenge

a promise to be kept!

So I re-arranged

these words while you slept!

 

I finished what I had to write

late into the night.

 

You weren’t on

Instant Message IM;

But I am.

So I thought it’d be fun

 

to write you another one.

So I did.

Here it is.

And now my evening’s done!

 

Though you won’t read them until morning,

I thought I should give you fair warning:

I am through.

You have two.

“I Don’t Get It, Poetry”: an IMbic Romantic Sonnet

January 29, 2009

I don’t get it, Poetry.

Pentameters iambic;

Rhythms Pedantic;

Imagery.

 

Words that

Try to rhyme

Sometimes;

But frequently don’t.

 

Stresses and Meters

That fit in a beat,

But they only succeed

In confusing the reader.

 

I don’t get it, Poetry.

But I get the romance you write to me.

The Poetic Artist versus Insecure Egotist: an IMprov Poem

January 26, 2009

There’s a femme fatale stunner I know…
and now that my confidence is no longer low
In my mind I’m empowered
to gather up flowers,
and see
if she’d like to see
where it will go.
Because I don’t know!

But there is a problem
I’ll admit.
And I don’t quite know
how to address it.

For some time
I’ve fantasized
about touching her back,
her neck,
her thighs!

As though that would be a solution
to my internal turmoil
and Revolution!

The solution was there
in my mind all along!
I just had to dare
to finally sing my own song!
Care to sing along?

(Now, I just need to balance
the verbal artist,
carefully and creatively
with the insecure egotist,
so I can co-exist!)