One Line Poetry

by Tracy McGill

One Line Poetry

Being a former English major, and therefore, full-fledged member of the grammar police, the advent of texting and tweeting and social network pages has caused me much anxiety. Does anyone write in full sentences anymore? Has our creativity been reduced to 140 characters? By the time our kids are grown, will they actually be thinking in text language? What would Shakespeare do? Errr … I mean, WWSD? I wonder what he’d say if he knew some of his famous lines have been translated to text lingo—ATGING (all that glitters is not gold).


Actually, Shakespeare was a fairly hip cat during his time and instead of fighting the trends, I think he’d embrace them and, like an American Idol contestant, make them his own. So here, I’d like to get some one-line poetry going.


Huh?! How can a poem be one line? Well, I don’t know I guess the same way that @mosFER means atmosphere.


Nobody has the time (or attention span) to read poetry anymore, unless … it’s a one-liner and it’s just been tweeted on their tweetdeck. So, here are some ideas to give poetry an extreme makeover. You could pick a line from an existing poem (just be sure to attribute it to the author). Some obvious examples would be:


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood—Robert Frost. (Close your eyes and meditate on that one: you can feel not only the hope, but the anguish of the decision to be made!)


Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.—Joyce Kilmer


How about for the Twilight fans:


And so the lion fell in love with the lamb.


What if I’m not the hero? What if I’m the bad guy?


Dr. Seuss:


The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.


Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.


In my world everyone is a pony, and they all eat rainbows, and poop butterflies. (Not really Dr. Seuss, but from the movie Horton Hears a Who, and my personal favorite.)


One-line poetry is by no means a new craze. It’s been around since the ’60s when one line Haikus were popular in literary circles. Perhaps the most famous one line poem is by Ogden Nash.


It’s titled Fleas:




Had ’em.


So, my mission for you, should you choose to accept it, is to get your kids’ creativity juices flowing. Have them come up with some of their own or send them on a search for some great one-liners in existing poetry (a sneaky way to get them to read). Start a family poetry journal and record your favorites. Invest in a magnetic poetry kit. They have all different versions now. We have one on the fridge and the kids love coming up with some funny concoctions. MJ made this one this morning:


bitter scream beneath sweet blood (Hmm … I think she’s been reading too much Twilight.)


E did this one:


cool mother springs diamonds (I like it.)


So work on some of your own and share with me! Let’s do some in honor of Mother’s Day. Here’s my contribution:


Mom peers out kitchen window: pieces of her heart picking dandelions.


In the meantime, if your kids are texting, there are tons of websites that will tell you what language they’re speaking, like lingo2word.com and netlingo.com. Do you know what this one means? 911 PAW TMB = Call me. Parents are watching text me back.