The Tiniest of Things #1

19 Mar

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Welcome to The Tiniest of Things, A Monthly mix of writerly observations and poetry from Tiffany Coffman

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 My name is Tiffany Coffman, and I’m a poet.  I know.  It sounds like quite the declaration of an addiction, and in some way I suppose it is.  I have no formal education or a degree hanging on my wall, but what I do have is the breadth of my life experience and the appetite for creativity that drives me to write.  Poetry has been with me since childhood, a curious cohort that has permitted me to get absolutely lost in imagination and disclose what I absorb through the senses, through memories.  As a creative, the ability to bend words to my advantage, whether in rhyme or by natural flow, then revel in the middle of it all is the stuff of magic.  I write from an organic place, a place of fidelity, wherein I attempt to gift the reader with imagery and storytelling so inviting that you’ll have felt you’ve shared something with me.  I don’t write for myself.  I write to take you along with me on a ride of emotions and confessions, whether they’re mine or yours.  So we’ll take the top down, throw the map away, kiss the asphalt, and roll. 

140 Characters Does Not a Poet Make

Haiku.”

Gesundheit.”

Tanka.”

You’re welcome.”

It wasn’t until July of 2012 that I decided to take my longstanding twitter account to the next level with the intent to immerse myself inside the poetic community.  I’d just recently gotten back into writing after taking 5 years off with the fierce determination to share my work and that of others, with Twitter being the perfect venue.  It was love at first sight you could say.  I was lured in by the tasty little micropoems of various flavor and form, relishing how others’ words danced on my tongue inspiring me to follow.

And follow I did.  Not just those I admired, but followed suit by beginning a life of microtweeting my own delicious amuse-bouche for others to savor.  This form of 140-poetry offered a great opportunity for me to get my name out there as a formidable poet as well as tap into a sort of stream of consciousness writing.  The brilliance in this for me was the ability to write immediately what I saw and felt in the moment which often captured a concept that I was then able to expound upon at a later time.  It was also a way to hone my word bending skills and get automatic feedback from others which acted almost as a compass for me with regard to the direction I wanted to take my writing.

So, off I went into the poetic sunset with tiny little micropoems at the ready, firing them off and into the twittersphere, and then situating myself at the helm where the real writing began.   My micropoetry became infectious to me as I began tweeting from odd locations: darkened streets on Halloween night, side of the road under lamplight, during breakfast with a friend, an ATM, etc…  Ideas flying from every direction allowed me to write deeper, fuller pieces.  Now excited and ready to move beyond the sole need of micropoetry, I tweeted full pieces of my work, sat back, and waited.

And then to quote Philip Larkin, “Nothing, like something, happens anywhere.’

While I found some positive response, I quickly realized that Twitter is not designed for much more than the 140 character attention span.  Instant gratification rules the land as far as reading, retweeting, and favoriting poetry goes.  The idea that I’d get more response to my work if I tweeted Instagrammed fruit arrangements as opposed to full length poems was disheartening to say the least.   I was writing for my life, literally writing my ass off, while others were getting recognized for microtweeting endless bits about snow and sky.  If done uniquely it should be recognized, but often there was no creativity in it.  Micropoetry had either become so average or so affected and contrived, with each word so cleverly but unemotionally placed, that I became discouraged and even incensed.

What had become of writing?  Not that I even knew what writing truly used to be in the time before I was born, but I was fairly certain it wasn’t about writing what amounted to a descriptive sentence and thereafter labeling it poetry.  Poetic in nature, perhaps, but not poetry.  Random thoughts and outward thinking suddenly became the poetic norm as I watched the craft of poetry being diminished singlehandedly by Twitter.  People with no real interest in poetry were now deemed twitter poets by throwing out descriptive sentences and tagging it as micropoetry or even ineffective Haiku.  Things like, “She walks around the room / slippers on feet / battling the cold” became officially notarized as legitimate poetry by virtue of a few forward slashes and a nifty hashtag.  Ah, the true hallmark signs of a poet.  If I’d known writing was that simple, I would’ve been forward slashing my way into fame since the age of 10 and humbly grabbing the title of #PoetLaureateoftheUniverse.

The ripple effect of such micropoetic tweets rears its ugly head most notably during a holiday or change of season.  During the transition into fall, for example, it seemed everyone was talking about Autumn – that kicky little chick that turns heads, changing minds, changing moods, breaking hearts, and falling away leaving Winter to clean up the mess.  It was all about leaves.  Their various colors, their falling, their crunch underfoot, but it was repetitive and ad nauseam with nothing original being said.  Everyone was duplicating everyone for a try, a stab, a right to claim this unoriginal micropoetry.  It’s Autumn.  Leaves change colors.  They make a crunchy sound.  We get it.  No one is saying anything outside of the ordinary, and no one is noticing anything beyond the obvious.  But isn’t that a poet’s job?  To notice what others can’t see?  To say what others are afraid to say, and to be brave enough to tear an ideal, a place, or a belief apart?  What has happened to the fearless poets of yesterday who worked hard mastering their craft, line by beautifully placed line?

It is in my frustration that I eventually mourn the loss of such great poets as Sexton, Larkin, Rilke, and Bukowski to name a few as there seems to be a lack of ordinary genius in the world of Twitter.  Poets who are passionate about their craft, wrangling words and putting forward an emotion for digestion into a soul, are becoming endangered by the likes of social media outlets such as Twitter where you’re forced to define yourself as either a poet on Twitter or a Twitter poet.  The distinction should be clear.  Unfortunately, those of us that deem ourselves poets on Twitter may even fall into the trap of instant gratification with forced micropoetry perpetuating the illusion that Twitter is the place where poetry happens.  Poetry happens in your soul, sprouted from an idea that travels to heart then hand and spills onto a page carefully scribed for a shared world.  It does not necessarily reside in the 140-characters that take less than 140 seconds to type and the blink of an eye to release into the atmosphere as an alleged reflection of ordinary genius.  The world is ordinary enough, isn’t it?

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Please take the time to click, and then click again to zoom into the cartoon so you can see the artwork in all its glory and detail. Thank you!

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The above cartoon was specially commissioned by ArtiPeeps for this post and was drawn by the artist and cartoonist KOOS KLEVEN.  DO check out his work here, and on our ‘Weekend Showcase’ here.

You can also follow Koos on Twitter here.

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Tiffany will be back with her next entry on Tuesday 16th April. 

Meanwhile you can read more of her work here: http://tlcoff.wordpress.com/ 

and follow her on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/tlcoff

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One Response to “The Tiniest of Things #1”

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  1. That Poetical Sense In The Night | EssayBoard - March 21, 2013

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