Is It Really a Choice Between Twitter and Poetry?

In April, for Poetry Month, the LA Times ran an OP-ED by Lori Anne Ferrell, who is the director of Claremont Graduate University’s Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and Kate Tufts Discovery Award. These are giants in the world of poetry awards. Ferrell’s piece argues that poetry is complex and cannot be reduced. She argues that we should all find a poem that startles us with its “lasting truths.” She wants us to put our favorite poems in our pockets. She speaks very well for poetry and for the month of poetry.

You can read the article here: A Book of Poetry That’s Worth $100,000, And So Much More

Near the end of the short piece, Ferrell suggests something she calls revolutionary: that we quit Twitter and send a poem to someone we disagree with. She thinks poetry will span the divide between us. What she seems to hope for is akin to what I felt Tony Walsh did in his poem “This is The Place” about Manchester.

At first, I took her quite literally. Yeah, I should stop wasting so much time on the internet. On Twitter, yes, but also Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and even WordPress. Maybe not Goodreads ;). After all, it makes sense, right? Every minute spent online is a minute that could be spent reading a poem or sending someone else a poem.

But then I wondered who I would send a poem to and it led me to think about the difference between Ferrell’s life and mine. She is a humanities professor on campus at a graduate university. I work at home and live a split personality existence, helping run our business and writing creatively.

Maybe you, like me, work from home. Maybe you don’t and you have a vast network of coworkers. If you work from home, you don’t see too many people on a regular basis. But you might correspond and communicate regularly using the internet and even social media.  If you have coworkers, but unlike Ferrell, don’t work in a field that automatically values poetry or novels or painting or photography (whatever your art, there are commonalities between them all), you still might find the need to communicate online with others who do.

So why would you quit your “Twitter feed”? Or WordPress or Facebook or whatever forum you most value? I sure don’t want to be that isolated. I want to talk to people about what I care about.

And as for sending a poem to someone: Since the postal service is a declining service, most people will choose email to send a poem. Last time I checked, emails were part of our online world.


It is true that reading well-written poetry and prose adds a richness to our lives that we can’t get from Twitter. And it doesn’t provoke anxiety in the same way either. (Don’t tell me social media doesn’t give you anxiety, at least some of the time).


Perry took his first dose of deworming medicine a week ago. He takes the 2nd dose in another week. In the meantime, he’s shut up in a bedroom with a view of birds, lizards, snakes, and bunnies. Although I still don’t pet him, if I reach out my “paw” to him, he reciprocates by touching it with his own paw. Then he gets excited and stretches and rolls on his back.

Look at how his paw pads have changed in the past two months!

 It’s been so hot in Arizona (up to 120.8 one day) that he must be so relieved to be inside in the air conditioning and with a clean water bowl.

Writing was set aside for the past week so that I could focus on all the work I needed to do for Perry on top of my regular work. But I hope to be #amwriting this week! What do you plan to do for yourself this week?


Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, Essay, National Poetry Month, Poetry, Reading, social media, Writing

28 responses to “Is It Really a Choice Between Twitter and Poetry?

  1. Kicking Monday off with a long writing session. Doing about an hour of social media (blog interaction mostly), answering emails and then shutting it all down to focus on the novel. It’s been keeping me awake too much lately and I want to be done!

  2. Is there crusty stuff on the old paw picture? Poor guy! Hope the worming stuff works. When can you let him out again? I agree with your comments on the internet. Without a receptive local network, you need the internet. If it wasn’t for WP, how would I get my stuff out there? Maybe less time spent on shoe ads would be good! 🙂

    • It looks crusty, but the pads were just swarming with blisters. I wasn’t sure if his paws were permanently damaged or not, but they were not. He must have walked so much, the little sweetie. He has to be in the room until August for the deworming, but he will stay longer because at that point I will put a gate up at the door (and a sheet over the gate) and leave the door open. That way he can chat with the other cats through the gate for some time before I release him. Plus I want to be able to have a handle on his whereabouts and such before I let him loose in the full house.
      WordPress is such a wonderful forum for so many of us. I would rather have WP than all the other social media combined, I’m pretty sure.

      • Wow! That’s a long time for worms. I never had round worms (in my cats) just tapeworms and I wasn’t instructed to segregate although I did have to watch poop to make sure only one cat had them. Fortunately Revolution worked for them.

  3. That Perry is one lucky cat to have you looking after him.

    • I like to think that I am lucky because he’s so sweet, but I saw a photo somebody posted of a feral cat from a colony a few miles north of me and it looked like Perry (but it wasn’t) and thought that Perry might be one of the few lucky ones. I hope he continues to be lucky in life.

  4. I agree, communicating with like-minded souls on social media is a much needed outlet for those of us who work from home or whose social circles otherwise are limited. And publishing a poem or link to such on twiiter or facebook is a way to send a poem, potentially, to someone who may disagree with us. I am not so optimistic as she is about poetry being the bridge to span our differences, but do believe that art in its many forms at least attempts to. But there are no bridges when minds are closed, and too many sadly are today.

  5. I love the idea of putting my favorite poems in my pockets…and I’m intrigued by the concept of sending poems to the people I truly dislike with the hope that poetry can accomplish where my other books, blogs, stories, have failed to encourage a better understanding between two very different world views.
    I think I’ll try to write something on health care. Ugh. I grow weary just at the thought. Maybe I’ll try something easier – like funding for the arts.

  6. I’m with you, Luanne. I could give up all forms of social media easily…but WordPress, no way.
    Hugs to Perry!

  7. Imagine getting a poem in response to something you opined about. It’s certainly an innovative way to go about things! But like you, I couldn’t quit the other routes. I don’t think any author can.

    That change in Perry’s paw pads is remarkable. Glad he’s healing up.

  8. Poor Perry – I came too late to hear the story of how he came to you – but how wonderful that you are taking care of him so well. I was once adopted by a semi feral cat who spent the next 13 years loving me and hating everyone else – or at best tolerating them barely. She was often a trial to live with and I wept me a river when she died! I have also kept a poem in my pocket – when I’ve been hell-bent on learning it off by heart. I do that now and again when something really speaks to me. My daughter was telling me the other day that many of her university students don’t know what email is or don’t use it even if they know of it. They use pm; instagram, facebook, face-time etc. Apparently it is only people of a certain age who still use email. I was so shocked – here I was thinking I’m a with it kind of gal and right up there with the technology. Nope! 🙂

  9. Your view points are always stimulating, Luanne, but like your previous commenter I’ve been shocked to find out that my grandchildren never read my e-mails to them because they don’t use e-mail !!! oh dear… I never seem to catch up with technology !!
    Wonderful to have your updates on Perry… he matters to us all !!!!
    And you are wonderful to care for him as you do….

  10. I like the idea of sending a poem to someone, but I imagine they’d be a little nonplussed to receive it. Social media – mainly WordPress – is where I tend to be able to discuss creativity and writing, more than in my immediate world, so I think we need a variety of outlets for that. I’m glad to know that Perry is still making progress!

  11. The idea of sending poems is great – maybe we should send them to politicians when they cut funding for the arts 😉 I love WP and don’t use other social media much at all (part of that is because I don’t really understand how twitter, FB and Linkedin work). Perry’s paws look fantastic now. Animals heal beautifully when they are loved xxxx

  12. Since I work from home, I do enjoy “meeting” people (like you!) on social media, and there are people I keep in touch with on FB, who I don’t see that often or at all. But yes, it does sometimes get overwhelming and upsetting, particularly this year.

    Perry seems to be doing great!

  13. Love the update on Perry! And I was also enchanted with your line, “She [Ferrell] wants us to put our favorite poems in our pockets.” Such an intriguing thought – not to leave them shut up in books, but bring them out with us in our daily travels!

    Thanks for asking about our writing plans for this week – and I thought you had been away from writing for a few days, too … I’ve been trying to finish a chapbook-length flash fiction collection (thank you for your suggestion a few weeks ago to explore chapbooks for this type of project!), and I finally got my “little book of lies” completed – stories strengthened that needed strengthening, etc. Next, I have another semi-stalled project that I got a new idea for, I’m going to go back to it and see if I can start moving it forward. It’s a novel in collage or mosaic pieces … we’ll see!

    Thanks for such a great update, Luanne! Your updates inspire me to keep writing – it’s a gift.

  14. The paws say so much <3

    I've had it up to here *points above crown chakra* with people and their get-off-the-internet schpiel. Enough!
    I'll hide my poetry as I please and I'll tweet as I please and I'll ogle cupcake photos and recipes and watch video birds dance read about healing cats AS I PLEASE and how would she like it if someone told her that she could change the world by running marathons?
    Maybe the world needs more levity, or just more ways to braid hair!

  15. His paw pads have changed drastically and for the good. As for Twitter, not on Twitter. Glad the paws are doing better. I like poetry.

  16. Oh, I agree with you about the poetry issue. I used to send people my poems and quite honestly, they just didn’t read them. And usually they’d pretend they had but it was clear they had not. I decided it wasn’t fair of me to expect other people I know to be into reading poetry just because I was and I quit sharing except with the few I know who like reading it. Then I discovered photography and that is just so much easier for people to appreciate; not sure if that is a good or a bad thing, but my photos are something I can share with a much more diverse group of people.

    • That is true about photography being a more “popular” art. And like poetry a lot of people like to do it! But there are a lot of secret poetry writers haha.

  17. “So why would you quit your “Twitter feed”? Or WordPress or Facebook or whatever forum you most value? I sure don’t want to be that isolated. I want to talk to people about what I care about.”

    Exactly. All my friends live in the computer.

    • Kind of funny, isn’t it? On a related note, I didn’t used to “get” online dating, but now i can see where it helps to connect with someone through like interests!

  18. I’m not involved in a lot of online platforms, but I do like Facebook to keep in touch, in some way, with relatives and friends. Some of those people would appreciate a poem correspondence, but most would not get it.

    *Nice to see how Perry’s feet are mending.
    *120 degrees F, is way too hot.

    • That’s how i feel about Facebook, too, and for sharing pix of homeless cats! As far as “poem correspondence,” I think some people might be offended. I am referring to people who are suspicious of poetry. It is no longer that hot, but it’s still too hot and also humid.

Leave a Reply