Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Let's Yawp!

Lit-Kitties, we already did this! (Your manifestos!) Now let's show them off. Read this post and send yours in. I'll do one, too. As for you guys (poetry, fiction) it would be so easy to whip up a quick short-short or poem about change. Let's show them that CCAD can yawp with the best of them. Let me know if you need help submitting or coming up with a topic or exercise.

The posting below is by Emma Bolden, a fine poet and yawper in her own right. She sent it her facebook friends and I am passing it along to you:

You might already know about my new project The Yawp, a public poetry/community art project housed at www.TheYawp.com – and if so, I thank you (seriously, like, a Double Rainbow of gratitude) for your support and encouragement and yawping. I hope you don't mind me sending this mass-mailed message, but I'm organizing an exciting Yawp event for 10/10/10, which several organizations have designated as Global Work Day, a day to work to better the environment and spark positive change (skip to the last paragraph if you're a regular Yawper to see what's going on on 10/10/10!). What better way to do so than through community activism and art?!

A little background information about the site itself: for the past two semesters, I've given my poetry students one deceptively simple task as their final project. Their challenge? To find a way to get poetry out into the world. I was stunned with their inventive, exciting, and witty responses: poems Sharpied onto balloons which were then tied to fence posts and benches. Poems folded into origami boats, tucked in empty water bottles, and let loose in a local river. Poetrymobiles riding the streets of Lexington. Spontaneous public poetry slams. Poems written on white boards, on mirrors, on Post-It notes taped on appropriately-theme aisles in Wal-Mart – poetry was everywhere, and it was a beautiful thing. This summer, I started wondering what would happen if there was a place where others could respond to such a challenge, and post their responses – and thus The Yawp began.

The concept behind the site is relatively simple: write a poem (or story or essay or anything). Or find a poem (or story or essay or anything) that you really, really love, or that changed your life, or that you think other people need to read. Find some way to get that poem (or anything) out into the world (following, of course, all legal practices and laws and so forth). Take a photo of your Yawp, or tell the story of it, and I post it on the site – and, hopefully, other people will be inspired, and find their own way to get their own poem (or story or essay or anything) out into the world.

We exist in a time in which poetry and literature – and, well, all the arts, really – risk increasing isolation and separation from the community at large. We exist in a time when the writing community – and, well, the arts community as a whole, really – risks becoming increasingly divisive and divided. But we also exist in a time in which social networking brings us all closer together – and also increases access to literature and the arts. Some of the most inventive forms of poetry, from Flarf to the hay(na)ku to hypertext verse, have come into existence and proliferated on – and, in many ways, because of – the Internet. There are Twitter hash tags devoted to haiku and micropoetry and six word short stories – and I could go on and on.

I guess it all comes down to this: folks, people LIKE POETRY. People READ POETRY. And people WRITE POETRY. So why not create more opportunities to see art in the REAL community through the VIRTUAL community? And why not take this opportunity to spark change?

My challenge for 10/10/10 is simple: think about something you want to change, be it environmental or social or political – anything, really. Write about it. Or find writing about it. Get that writing out into the world. Or send it to The Yawp (we're accepting contributions online through Submishmash!) and I'll get it out into the world for you. If you're a teacher, get your students to write about change. If you're a parent, get your children to write about change. And bear in mind that writing is a form of action, of bearing witness – and that writing can inspire us to greatness, to empathy, and to move from writing about change to making change.
The Yawp
Today’s Yawp comes to use from the talented Cory Funk (known as “Q” in the photo, due to those ubiquitous and dreadful college bulletin board rules), who can be found as funkomatic on Twitter and monkeyrivertown on Flickr.

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