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Words Never Die: the New Poetry Scene

How do you see poetry? Do you still read any of them? Poetry may seem to be a dated form of communication, but it’s still a effective tool to convey an emotional message. Indeed it is evolving with the world but not left behind. We see a new wave of communication that are using poetry in a original way.

New York Times launched the Times Haiku tumblr to celebrate the National Poetry month in April. Haiku is a poem format originated from Japan, which consists of three lines — five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third. Based on the algorithms built by their senior software architect Jacob Harris, the software would scan periodically for new articles and breaks down the haiku-friendly sentences by using an electronic dictionary containing syllable counts. The intriguing part is the way it is being presented. Not as text, but as image in image-based tumblr. “Because we want the poems to retain their visual integrity, even when people share them across social networks, we post them as images instead of text,” Jacob said. It’s a project that explores the new relationship of words, visuals and computational technology.


Earlier this year, Supermarket giant Tesco also got into the poetry world in the form of advertising. Created by advertising agency W+K London, the ad copy was published as a poem to apologize for the horse meat incident. As English professor Dr. Christopher Burlinson described it in Standard, “it humbly lowers its voice, reassure us that all will be well, and asks us to keep calm and carry on buying”. The poetry has bigger emotional impact than a normal PR release, which normally sounds insincere and irrelevant.


The poetic mind is also found in fashion. Mr. Porter picked Max Willis, a young British poet to model in The Journal. Max published his first poetry collection Modern Love in 2011. He found a parallel relationship of fashion and poetry worlds. “Even in modelling there’s poetry. A review for a show I saw referred to things like the ‘origami of the dresses’. It’s interesting to look at the concealment of language.” He recently got his poetry videos published by Harper’s Bazaar, which look at the world of modeling through a poetic lens. Prada‘s new initiatives in literature also shows how words can sustain in a primarily graphical world. They are launching a literary contest “to explore innovative languages by means of forms of expression leading to the written word, thus creating an independent platform of interest and an unprecedented reserve for literary research.” Through the metaphor of prescription glasses, Prada challenges writer in the interpretation of reality. Though the contest is not in a poetry format, but it’s a poetic exploration per se.


Poetry serves its purpose in a world that favours brevity. Carefully structured words stir our emotions within seconds. Well curated poetic scenes strike our heart. When 140 chars sentences and 6-second videos continue to permeate our world, poetry has more chance to WOW us than ever.

Cover Image from Jeff Pag

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