For the last week, I have been participating in what I have been calling a “Weeklong Poetry-Commute.” Basically, I’ve been trying to figure out new ways to “cloud seed” the creative process with my poetry, and I decided that every day on my way home from work, I would tweet one line of poetry, as I was leaving my office in Westwood. Some nights I biked home; other nights I drove home in my Buick Lesabre. At the end of the week, the plan was to put all the lines together in a poem.
I don’t know if you are familiar with the area in Westwood, but the traffic is thick. I live about two miles away from Westwood Village and my work, but sometimes it takes me about 30 minutes to get home — that’s nothing for Los Angeles — and other times it takes about 15 minutes, which is about what it takes when I bike to work. Well, the area is so congested, because the commuters from Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and Westwood are trying to stampede towards the 405 on-ramp at the Wilshire exit. It doesn’t help with all the construction.
And as I was driving and noticing all the traffic, I couldn’t help but see the beauty in the wood beams on the blossoming highway overpass; I couldn’t help but see something strangely stunning in the faces of the veterans getting off the buses to head to the Veterans Hospital; I couldn’t help but be astonished by the way people behaved in traffic — the way we let our personalities shine through our cars. So I wanted to make this experience into poetry with a form that expressed this strange experience.
I’m always trying to figure out new poetic forms, and I think social media is providing artists with an entirely new outlet for creativity. The surrealists used to do a similar poetic experiment called Exquisite Corpse, except they used many different people. Also, Oulipo, the poetry movement started in France, has similar poetry games. My former professor, Denise Duhamel, used to teach us about all these different variations of poetry, and she brought a new life to a lot of our stale poems. She’s an awesome poet, and she taught us that poetry doesn’t always have to be put together so neatly as if it was a perfectly structured — and boring — apartment complex approved by the zoning board. In poetry, the building can look like it’s about to fall apart and be wonderful for it.
I’m not sure if the poem will come together in the end as a whole, but this is just an experiment. Below the sound cloud file, you will find the tweets in their original. Love to hear your feedback or if you have new ideas for new poetry experiments with social media — or an idea for a collaborative project.