In the past couple of weeks, I've begun a series of poems on Facebook, creatively titled "Facebook Poems." The idea is that I post a prompt such as "what tattoo would you get and why" or "respond to the word reminder." Throughout the next 24 hours, Facebook friends post their immediate responses, whatever comes into their heads first. At the end of that period, I take the posts and try to pull ideas or phrases from as many of them as possible, link them together, and I turn them into a poem. This process has been as fun as it has been enlightening. While writers always get their ideas from their experiences in the world and their interactions with other people, the end results are usually filtered only through the writer. In other words, the gathering together of ideas is usually not a public process.
By its nature, writing is a solitary art. I have at least one hundred poems on pages that may only ever be read by me. If a poet expects to publish in a journal, he or she must not publish his or her poems in any way because no journal will accept a poem that has already been published. I have long lamented this, since, as a painter, I can post pictures of my art all day long and still have the work accepted into shows. Posting on Facebook give an artist free publicity and, on many occasions, revenue. While I realize that poetry does not sell like paintings, it is disheartening that we feel we cannot share our work on Facebook, get our names and our writing abilities "out there," for fear of never publishing. Poetry is meant to be read, heard, taken in and rolled around, and shared. It is not meant to sit in a drawer or on a flash drive.
Writing these poems, there are five drafts now, has been a wonderful, freeing experience for me. I am getting out of my head and writing about subjects I would have never thought about in just that way without the Facebook friends who posted their thoughts. Yesterday, I wrote a poem based on the prompt "respond to abandoned places" called "Concept of Time" (any suggestions for a better title?) that examines the idea that every moment in time exists at every other moment in time. I've tried to write about this idea before, but I have been largely unsuccessful. I like the draft I got, and I like it because Kathleen said who she was yesterday was abandoned, Brent wrote a fascinating bit about walking on the remains of a flooded town near the Hudson (he even sent a map!), and Joe mentioned cities he himself had abandoned. I love the fact that I feel connected to these poems because of the people who contributed their thoughts and experiences, and I love that I am sharing my poetry with them.
Check out the Facebook poems, and better yet, take the posts 24 hours later and write your own! Wouldn't it be cool to read what we all come up with? Poem, flash fiction, photo; whatever your medium, I'd love to see it happen. Perhaps some publisher somewhere will accept my Facebook poems someday, but until then, I am enjoying my writing, and I am enjoying the community we create, poem by poem.