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Saturday, September 11, 2004

160 characters left

Technology and Art, a combination not liked that much by puritans but it's fascinating to see how technology creates boundaries within which art can flourish.

Meet a new kid on the art block: Sms Poetry, Mobile Poetry, Text Message Poetry, call it whatever you like and please by all means write whatever you like but there is one technological constraint: you only have a 160 characters to write something with.

The newspaper The Guardian was one of the first I think to jump on the new text poetry bandwagon. They did this sms poetry competition a couple of years ago which attracted nearly 7,500 entries from 4,700 mobile phones. The winner was a girl named Hetty Hughes (see sms above) who wrote a poem in the new and somewhat strange looking sms language. I liked the submission by Steve Kilgallon as well, who came in second:
Sun on maisonette windows
sends speed-camera flashes tinting through tram cables
startling drivers
dragging rain-waterfalls in their wheels
I drive on
And then there also seems to be OneSixty, "the world's first SMS text message literary magazine" as their banner suggests. Check out their first three issues on their website which contain several 'poems that can be delivered as text messages'. Mike Hession describes it like this:

We are here today
in order to witness
the single most amazing
phenomenon of the
twentieth century.

May I present to you
the one,
the only
So a new revolution in poetry seems to be born. Soon you'll probably be able to give out your mobile number and start receiving your daily poems. And when will the first real well known sms poet stand up?

While we wait at such things to happen, let's start by giving out our favorites (or write one yourself?). Here's my favorite of the whole bunch I read so far. It's from the OneSixty website and it may very well be one of the most simple poems I've come across. Written by Gurmeet Dhillon, it says what it says:

when u called earlier,
I don't know whether u said
u'd call back or not,
so thought I'd let u know
I'll b leaving by 7.00pm,
& back by 5.00am ur time.
Tke care!

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