© By Boinkaz
It’s not like I cured cancer, but my claim to fame when the last gasp and eructation dissipates from my cooling vessel will likely be the Thank You poem on Twitter, or the TY poem as I call them. I’m often asked what these are all about, so this is just a brief overview.
TYs for Retweeting Tweets has become like negotiating the national congress of a politburo in some dreary, long-forgotten communist state. Going through the round-robin of TYs and Counter TYs was getting to be too much, and same-ish: the pre-emptive gratitude strikes, the implied threat to escalate interaction to a new levels, perhaps deploying Facebook Likes, and finally invoking the use of Weapons of Cat Destruction on the video front.
Enough, quoth I. So I began to thank people for Retweets of my poetry and essays by writing them a little poem, like Hallmark would have done, except with intent that’s not nearly as sweet and rhymey. Though generally positive–why thank somebody by writing them a soul-destroying bummer of a poem?–my TY poems are often imagest, invoking a visual idea or half-baked concept without giving the reader any message beyond that. It’s kind of like giving someone a word picture of a flower–remember how odd it was a decade ago to get a photograph of a flower instead of getting a real flower?
TY poems have to be short–ten words is ideal–because one needs to get lots of Twitter handles into the thank you. I will go through periods (like now) where I’m only getting three or four handles into a Tweet because the poem is just too long. Despite these transgressions, I aspire to brevity. Sometimes the poem gets so long that there is no room for any handles. At this point it becomes its own Twitter poem. Once in a while a TY poem metastacizes into something even bigger that I have to put up on the blog.
TY poems are good customer service: Getting a poem, even though its written for everybody who RTed or Faved some writing in the past day or so, is nice and curiously uplifting. So one is saying thank you in a unique way that engages the reader as an individual.
There is a selfish reason as well. If you are a poet, and you wake up in the morning and have absolutely no clue what to write about, then having to write a brief thank you poem to a bunch of people is a good exercise that gets you writing in much the same way that various word of the day exercises like #lqw, #ohj, #orjay, #artwiculate, #altwic and #15tt also do.
TY poems get one out of one’s own head or life, which is a good thing. Poets can be self-obsessed people caught in an endless tunnel of self-analysis or adhesion to a chosen syntactic mantra. Forcing oneself to write something reasonably cheery and brief, that’s not about one’s own reality is a good object lesson in positive escape.
To some extent this externalization is also true of love poems, although the catch is that on some level, love poems are not free, or done with truly objective visual or intellectual intent. Oftentimes the purpose of love poetry is to pine on the unattainable–all of our muses–or to find a mate or to get lucky with those readers who are, in fact, up for a quickie somewhere.
Personally, I’ll often write thank you poetry or love poetry with mercenary intent. I know that my essays in particular can be a quite grim. Forcing myself to write cheery is me running around like Mr. Roarke on Fantasy Island, saying “Smiles everyone. Smiles!” with Tattoo, the squat little poem, at my side.
Blog readers deserve heartfelt thanks for slogging through topics that they would rather not think about, like government surveillance, the suppression of dissidents in America, or the slow death of empire. Reminding people, including myself, that life goes on and it’s not all that bad.
That said, people who read my blog, unless they’re on Twitter and I know their handle, rarely get a genuine, direct thank you because blog interaction is more complicated. I’ve been trying to figure out an adroit way to circumvent this problem. Until then, you lot get the full glass of bile–but know that you have my sincere thanks for reading.
How do I decide who gets a thank you poem from me? Here’s the general guideline:
1. People who RT my Twitter poems or link to my blog get a thank you poem. Likewise people who fave my original poems generally get a thank you poem back.
2. People whom I’m having other positive interactions with may be getting a piece of my mind as well. So right now I’m still trying to get this #NoWarInSyria song going. Lots of folks who gave me advice or input got a TY poem back, even though they may not be RTing the poems.
While I am grateful for recipients of a Thank You poem for RTing it, this won’t cause yet another one to be generated for that person. This is like shaking down a genie you have control over, by wishing for three more wishes–on your third wish. We have to break the cycle of thank yous somewhere, right? That said, other tweeps, who weren’t thanked in the original TY poem, who then go ahead and RT that TY poem, will then get their own TY poem for doing so, because they just RTed an original poem.
Got that? Clear as mud, huh?
I do TY poems in one big batch, usually every few days. I sift through my notifications and see which Twitter users RTed what, and then copy and paste their handles into a file. This is the biggest pain in the rear–not writing the actual poem. Somebody, most probably a spammer, is going to someday make a million by harvesting handles from RTed tweets for handles.
Some of these people are often overlooked because, as readers of this blog know, I have a big problem with institutional interference in my communications. This means that notifications of a fave or RT often aren’t delivered by Twitter and I have no clue on how to get a proper list. If you are overlooked, please don’t take it personally.
In conclusion, I just want to say thank you for RTing and reading my writing. I live a very strange life, one which can easily breed cynicism and intellectual laxity. Writing poetry is my gift, my party trick if you will. Writing little TY poems to all of you when you do me a favor like RTing a poem is my way of expressing gratitude and of getting my head back in the game.