Intellectual Curiosities and Provocations

What Should Action Poetry Become?

By Levi Asher on Thursday, October 4, 2012 08:15 pm

Eleven years ago, a Litkicks reader posted a suggestion: could I create a free poetry board on this site? I thought it sounded like fun, and thus Action Poetry was born. I added a twist by inviting readers of each contributed poem to write short poems in response.

12,000 poems later, I've had to temporarily shut down the Action Poetry stream for the technical redesign of the site (which, you may have noticed, is still in progress, which is why the design of these pages keeps changing a bit every day). Several friends of Litkicks have asked me how long it will take to bring the poetry board back. The truth is, I am slowing down the restoration on purpose, because I want to rethink the whole thing.

In its eleventh year, I still find the individual poems thrilling and complex, and I know the poetry board means a lot to many people. But I didn't feel the level of flow and interactivity has been anywhere near as strong as it should have been. I shut it down because it needs an infusion of new ideas, and a new display format, and maybe some social networking hookups. I want the whole Action Poetry package to be as good as the individual voices have always been. But what exactly does this mean? I'm trying to figure this out right now.

So, poets, I'm asking for help. If you have any thoughts about what exactly the next version of this open poetry board should be, and how we can make it better than it was, please post a comment. It was a reader suggestion that originally inspired Action Poetry, so I'm definitely open to hearing more ideas about what it should become next.


This article is part of the Action Poetry series. The next post in the series is Please Write A Poem Today.


58 Responses to "What Should Action Poetry Become?"

by hypcollector on

...by far, and without a close competitor, the reaction poems are the jewels of action poetry. anything to encourage reaction is suggested. the creative subjects that root poems illuminate set the conditions for purity and authenticity. like the beatles, we can only write about holding hands and wanting your love for so long. here's to the wonderfully twisted action poets. (whiskey glass raised) also, advice on change and innovation>>never start over, just add to.... kaizen.

by catalyst on

I have two ideas. Although I don't think there was anything wrong with the way it was before. These are just possibilities.

First, It would be cool to have a direct/private message function. Telling the poet publically about the poem is cool but I think it would increase value to be able to privately message individual poets about their poems. This could increase the "social networking hookup" stock of AP.

Second, I feel like there should be an "archives" section. So that we can look back at past poems and continue to review them. There's been many instances where I loved a poem so much but felt bad that I couldn't get back to it whenever I wanted to read it, after 15-16 posts it simply disappeared.

Anyways, I don't think by any means AP was broke or needs fixing. These are just my 2 cents on the matter, for whatever its worth.

by Levi Asher on

Thanks for good comments so far. One thing I want to assure -- I have all the poems, and will definitely be bringing back the archives. They will be published forever. Thanks for these thoughts.

by Steve Plonk on

I think that Action Poetry needs an editing feature for the poets...like you used to have. Then typos & miscues may be immediately corrected or corrected shortly. Other than that, I liked the old format. (I'm not into facebook nor twitter at the moment, so I don't care whether or not these features are present.)

by Zuma on

I liked AP as it was very much and do miss it, although I thoroughly appreciate that now is a time you may wish to reflect, and possibly alter the thing.

I don't know if I'd add private messaging to it, but the archive aspect I'm all for and am glad to know they're all archived. As far as private messaging does go, I'd say that would be a fine site-wide feature in general but I wouldn't make it an AP feature exclusively.

I don't know what else to add -AP was pretty great as it was, to me. I don't believe the form was deficient at all but I haven't your perspective on it. The form as it was was inviting, and not overlit -it was cozy, like a small late night chatroom for poets.

(The prospect of changing AP keeps bringing this John Cage page to mind,
http://www.ubu.com/aspen/aspen4/diary.html, heh.)

by WIREMAN on

When in doubt make a change Levi......the whole format since the change from old litkicks has been extremely distant and lacking in the openness that it originally had in the initial format......action poetry is the last remnant of that old streaming on the page past, albeit more hidden in it's instantaneous responsiveness. I honestly feel without that instantaneous responsiveness it ceases to be Action Poetry and perhaps that is why you feel that something here ain't exactly right. If I had my druthers Levi, I'd hope that you would turn the action poetry into more of a 1st thought/best thought call and response poetry jam.......that's my wired opinion and it's been like that for sometime now......

by Duncan Brown on

We also liked AP as it was. However, here's a suggestion: how about enabling an archive for each individual poet by just typing in that poet's user name...that way, even if a poet doesn't have a poem on the 'recently added' list, all readers could access all added poems by any contributing writer. Equally, it would be great if someone could type a poet's name in Google search to find a link such as: "Duncan Brown is on Literary Kicks". This would at once widen the profile of both the site and individual writers.

The main thing is...get it going again as soon as possible please!

Duncan Brown / Sheila Faber

by poetpunk on

I have a few ideas, as I've seen many a site use new formats.

The idea of possibly having a chat plugin as well as the poetry feedback really appeals to me, because along with having feedback on poems we write the old fashioned way, we can have a sort of free exchange of information and even have a sort of free form poetry slam type deal on the chat and not clog anything up. This lets people who want to take time to write have what they want while at the same time giving people who want a more rapid response something. I've always found that a chat system works better for more rapid fire poetry and could even allow for a sort of collaborative free-style poem written in the chat by all the participants.

Also the fact that with a chat, if two poets chose to, they could have a competition of sorts if they so choose, with the other people of the site being spectators and judges. Not that I want this site to be purely about competition, but it would liven things up and might even bring fresh blood to the table.

No offense meant here, but I think that adding a Facebook/Twitter plug-in would be a waste of time, and might even be detrimental to some. I purposefully choose a different name when doing my poetry here than any other online alias because I want the freedom to write what I really want to. Part of the appeal of this place is that it doesn't have those things. I have the privacy to be truly creative here, whereas on Facebook, everything poetic or artistic is turned into so much drama.

This is of course a tl;dr(to long;didn't read) post, but those are just my two overlong redundant pennies. I am very glad that Action Poetry is coming back though, as it means a whole lot to me. I've been coming here since 2008 and I am very happy to have a sort of home here. Whatever comes of this site, I will of course continue to use it.

by Levi Asher on

I really appreciate these responses, poet friends -- thank you.

WIREMAN, the truth hurts but I know you have a point. Yeah, I do miss the fast-moving energy of the earlier version of Action Poetry. But, at the same time ... the Internet has changed a lot since 2004, and I'm not sure if the exact chemistry we had then would work in the age of twitter and iPhones. However ... it's a goal I'd like to keep in mind, to bring that sense of speed and fun back. Let's try to make this happen.

Poetpunk, Duncan, Zuma, Steve, I'm pondering your points too. Hmmm ....

by Catalyst on

I'd just like to echo poetpunk's point about Facebook and twitter. Please do not bring those into AP.

And I really like Duncan's point about having a list of poets. It would provide an effective archive and would be cool to be able to browse by poet's names

.02

by Levi Asher on

Catalyst, I do not want to do anything that would alienate the people who make Action Poetry work. But I need to know why you think Facebook integration would be a bad thing? If it were done sloppily or thoughtlessly, it would be a mess, but I do think it might be nice to allow people to optionally share the poems they write on Facebook. (Those who wish to remain anonymous, like poetpunk, should of course be able to not use Facebook). I don't see Twitter as fitting in here -- Twitter's news-oriented sensibility doesn't seem particularly poetry-friendly to me -- but Facebook means a lot to many people, and often does seem conducive to creativity and personal expression. So please tell me, why exactly do you think an optional Facebook hookup would be bad for Action Poetry?

by Steve Plonk on

Levi, Having Action Poetry on Facebook would invite in plenty of trolls. I know people who use facebook & that is a real problem...

by Catalyst on

The way you put it, it doesn't sound bad. I'm not against having an option to share it with Facebook. This is simply a personal matter, I would almost always choose to remain anonymous. However, if others wish to share their poetry on Facebook, it seems like a nice addition to AP to allow them to do so.

by mnaz on

i don't know.

it's either action poetry or it isn't. and for the last eight years, um, no.

by poetpunk on

Levi, I like the idea of having something like a "share on Facebook" option, sorta like how such sites as Youtube, tumblr, and most Blogger pages have. I think that could be a sort of happy medium between fully integrating Facebook and forcing poets who want to share a poem they wrote here to copy and paste their poem into a status update or something. Plus with a simple "share" button, that means that if someone wants to start trolling, they have to actually sign up and then write a response to the poem.

I like the idea of simply having a "share" button , it seems like a balance between keeping Action Poetry "pure"(and by that I mean, for poets writing poetry and getting feedback, not some idiot just making trollish remarks) while at the same time allowing people to share work they've done and the works of others.

by Lisa Geraghty on

I'm with Wireman... Part of the chemistry and poetic unfolding was that rapid-fire response system of the early early days. Then again, it is also a great exercise to be able to be inspired by one poem and then write something more thought out in response. Perhaps we could have two options for poets? An option for free flow train of thought and then one for the times when we want to tinker or get serious feedback??? Thanks so much for even considering keeping it around

by WIREMAN on

Levi.....really down with making action poetry take (it has to)the next step......for moving on is what action poetry is all about. The 1st thought-best thought writing philosophy many of us are influenced by craves change, it is the way of all life. Well time is wastin for this old Wired man and I most definitely need my Action Poetry back so we can move forth.....I want....I need it....I gots to have....It is my habit, and apparently a lot of others too....let us get the Actiion back on the road ASAP.

by Levi Asher on

Thanks again for all the comments. Well, I have a lot to think about. This will take a couple of weeks at best -- I'm thinking early November for some preliminary stuff. I will also possibly post some more ideas/questions because this feedback is very helpful.

by Steve Plonk on

To Whom It May Concern:

Just yesterday, as I was trying to get the link to this thread &/or to Litkicks.

I used both Internet Explorer & Firefox & neither would bring up your page. A "Drupal error" was cited. I hope the bugs can be worked out so that your page(s) come up every time they are clicked on. Thanks.

by Levi Asher on

Hi Steve -- that was my host's server crashing. It was down for about two hours total yesterday -- should be all good now.

by catalyst on

mnaz, do you care to offer any constructive feedback/criticism? Or did you just plan on blindly bashing Action Poetry and the poets involved for the past 8 years?

by mnaz on

i didn't plan on it, catalyst, but maybe i did.

to me, if it can't happen in real time, like it used to happen so brilliantly here, then it's not "action poetry," that's all. to me, at least. one man's take on it.

did not mean to offend.

by Zuma on

it won't be long, i think it clear
before someone simply explodes
& writes a poem here

sigh

by Levi Asher on

I'm really inspired by all these comments, including the disagreements -- thanks again. If nobody had responded to my question, I would have assumed that nobody cared about Action Poetry, and might have decided not to bring it back at all. Now, I realize that people do care. I care too, and I'm excited to reinvent it.

Mnaz, I get where you're coming from -- but I do want to mention that one reason I had to shut off the wide-open fast-moving version of Action Poetry in 2004 is that it got dragged down by the work of a single hardworking troll who called himself "caliscouri" and took advantage of the fully open format to harass other poets, invade my privacy and that of several other Litkicks regulars, and in general act like a complete violent psycho. It certainly took all the fun and joy out of the forum for me.

I hate to admit that one person can have so much impact, but after trying everything from IP blocking to consulting legal advice, I finally decided that the Internet wasn't ready for a moderation-free open poetry forum. I wrote about this ordeal (and a few other things) here. This is why I changed the format to the quieter and slower version starting in 2004.

Zuma -- that's okay with me! Hah ...

by WIREMAN on

Action reactions
Wanting to chomp down
on the rind
All of us in it together
No matter what the weather
All comes out as poetry
For o say can you see
Wired me
There must be a way

by catalyst on

mnaz, thanks for making your voice heard. i'm just happy you get your point of view on the table. no offense taken.

by deminizer on

Action poetry's dead
The poets are blue
It's your damned site,
Code it the way you want to.

And I think I just blew chunks all over my muse....

by mnaz on

now there's some a. p. ! ....
thanks for the background, levi. i read your link (which you wrote in '09, remembering events of early '03) . . . early '03 is when i stumbled onto this place (obviously it has a much longer history than that), and it was like nothing i'd ever seen on the web--- something like 28 real-time boards, burning with passion and the issues of the day, driven by poets and artists and expoundificators, a few of them right on the edge ... the whole idea was nuts. off the rails. and incredibly powerful. and yes, i remember the trolls. and of course had no idea that those exchanges escalated to the level you describe .... and for lack of a better way to put it: eff those slime-sucking cretins.

by WIREMAN on

Action bleeding
night and day
1st thought/best thought
crusaders
Waiting for the sun
Waiting....waiting.....
Cyber complexities
amidst dire need
We wanna bleed
words
We need and believe
it's gotta be heard
Weigh the pluses
They far outweigh
the minuses
Yeah I got me the stage
love to put them Action
words of mine on parade
Over the years perhaps
my best stuff
Still raging out of me
willing to pass the takeoff
& fly performance test
Maybe this thread is the
way it could be done the best
With a bit of instantaneous
interaction, let's start
this Action party & rage.....

by catalyst on

highly evolved beings
don't need a lot of sleep,
the rest of the week i'm
in bed for 10 hours or
maybe the entire day but tonight
i'm taking Dylan Thomas' advice
and drinking coffee and
smoking cigarettes and reading
Rumi--I don't get him,
all i really wanna do is
lay down with a woman
and talk about where
we've both been
and maybe write
a few lines, finish
the coffee, exchange
it for wine, and
watch the sunrise.
yeah--i often
forget about
the rising part

by catalyst on

P.S. Action poetry ain't dead...its just in a coma

although i always wondered what it would be like to hump a corpse!

by deminizer on

Have to ask Mrs. Romney about that.

by WIREMAN on

The action ain't dead
It's just bleeding on
a thread @ the bottom
of Mr. Asher's blog
Just waiting for the
few of us in the mob
Action will never die
It will always be in
it's rightful place at the
top, in the sky
Waiting.....waiting.......

I have 1 ? For you Levi ......why move action way down the board where it is more obscure and less likely to receive more input?

by Levi Asher on

WIREMAN, I will find a better place for it on the page!

by michaelamichael on

My comment is that the poems ought to be able to be spaced out as one would want them, not always right justified. i don't know if italics and bold are options but that would be good too.

On a more philosophical note regarding the content, energy and flow of the poems themselves, I would say that the advancing influence of the internet on the minds and lives of individuals had some kind of effect that led to human beings (and by extension, obviously, wannabe poets) being somewhat less naive, less free, less unselfconsciously spunky in their proclamations and eruptions, in that the initial burst of creativity that was seen in the earlier days of this set of pages came from a pre-internet generation and was thus differently coloured, pre-Youtube ubiquity, pre-Facebook ubiquity etc etc. The dissemination of a million strands of knowledge, right or wrong, instantly available, from every direction had some sort of effect. I am not sure as to the mechanics of this or, for that matter, whether it is just something in my own mind, but it is somethiing I have thought about, considered from time to time.

Connected to everyone else, we become disconnected from ourselves.
There is a sense that words stopped meaning what they used to mean which came from there suddenly being so many more words out there on the internet.

Ok, I am waffling. Will cease.

by WIREMAN on

It's all about action poetry
Form stifles stride
A train you jump on board
and just ride
Not the place for the wary
More akin to jam not slam
1st thought/best thought mantra
Leave the 2nd thoughts for
another medium
Action poetry not to be confused
with straight poetry
Different animals
It's got to be spontaneous
Not for all, but it's for me
.............................................
I find that for me, as a poet who writes to perform, Action Poetry gives me an arsenal of word streams that initially start the performance and then allow me to fly within the free form Action provides. This Wednesday night when I perform these words I'll go to my action archive and read some of the ones from the past and assimilate new thoughts and ideas then use them in the performance. That's why Action Poetry is so important to me. This medium has enabled me to collect a paycheck after each show and it also enables me to pay other poets and musicians to perform. So Levi I have to say thank you my friend for providing this outlet where I have been growing as a word man performer for the past 11 years. It is my sincere hope that we will all of us continue to grow and prosper as poets here.

by Steve Plonk on

To Whom It May Concern:
Firefox picks up Litkicks.com on my PC;
however Internet Explorer still tries to pick
display Litkicks without success. This has
been happening since around October 16th.

I wonder if the same Drupal error is causing
the broken links. Thanks for your continued
attention. Appreciate this site very much.

by Levi Asher on

Steve, do you have a super-old version of Internet Explorer, like IE6 or IE7? You gotta upgrade that stuff. I think it works on relatively recent versions of IE. Please let me know what version you have ...

by WIREMAN on

How to keep the love alive
Losing my religion
Slip away....slip away, way, way....
Autumn leaves appear
Action does the limbo
Down here at the bottom
Stoned...immaculate....
Listening to the jolly boys
do rehab
Waiting....like a good citizen
Elections
Frankenstorm
Action poetry...........

by hypcollector on

.time on my hands.
.cause of an upgrade.
.what to do.what to do.
.from other lands.
.the girls were played.
.drink some booze.drink some booze.

by catalyst on

rehab just ain't in my bones
liver tellin' yo mama jokes
stomach encased in flames
i got jazz in my blood
hooked an IV up to bird
wailin' away on that horn
navigating the maps inside my skull
a bull or a bear
i trapped a bald eagle in my mind
'cause my heart is a penguin

action poetry lives!

by WIREMAN on

Diehard bottom feeders
Last vestiges from the
Grand social experiment
Where we was out there
on the edge
Trying to finda
Trying to finda
Prodigal sons and daughters
Fear strikes out
Pain always remains
Countdown 1-2-3-4-5-.......
Rise up like the Phoenix
that u b action poetry
U were and always will B

by hypcollector on

of blues and joy....busted out of a lion's den. tested the world until it tamed me. tasted chocolates and wine. felt the softest skin. saw the most incredible sights. heard canyon birds make music as the evening smells rose from the canyon floor. the balancing of indulgement and restraint, blind faith and intellect, rest and work, poverty and prosperity, and of blues and joy....

by WIREMAN on

Slinging in the rain
Waiting for the wind
Watching for the burn
Wondering on an instant
Giving it all you have
Inspired by the flow
Before there was ever go
Need the need
Need the bended knees
O these things I need to say
Exiles unraveled
Electronic beats lead the way
They will be alive 200 years after
my grandfather was born
How do you do-doodlie-do?

by Steve Plonk on

FOR THE INTERNET SKY

By Steve Plonk

Here’s my little poem on the fly,
Competing for space in the internet sky—
May your eyes dart back & forth,
Back & forth, as it were,
Kindly readers, oh so social,
Stinting so nicely, for sure...
May these lines affect you spritely,
In mornings & nightly
Soothe the spirit & quicken your thoughts
Hear this voice ring true,
To uplift all of you...

by WIREMAN on

Slipping into darkness
Whoa, back to normalcy
Thing I know little about
Everything just plain "WET!"
All the patches and fixes
seem to have worked
Action recollections
Passing storm
Lots of alcohol consumed
Best way for mere mortals
to survive all the gloom & doom

by poetpunk on

All Hallows Eve
Samhain I spend waiting
waiting for
that elegant ring
that means you've returned
safe and sound.

by WIREMAN on

Is it possible
Perhaps we've hit
rock bottom finally
Yet I truly feel that
AP is brewing in
the lab

by Poetpunk on

Maybe rock bottom at last
but in any case
I'm looking forward to seeing all of you
on the new brewed
AP.

by Zuma on

meanwhile i was still really thinkin'
of rocking this very bottom
in my new hot rod lincoln...
-like, if this ain't the very last
then what comes next i might ask
-i *could* rile a pile of defilement
in the utterly endless text & bask...
-but if i were to be *that* bold
i *do* still gots the untitled tale untold...

[*koff*]

http://zuma.vip.warped.com/theendlesstext.htm

by WIREMAN on

There we go right back on the main screen, next to Neil Young....ready for inclusion, infusion of the action words...

by hypcollector on

Trips through the garage. The trash carried, the rakes and cutters. same star is always there. The once great meadow now an estate. And the world revolves around them all. The importance of each life. Outcomes only temporary, pain endured. Lock 'em down girls. Pull the shades tight. The bikers and wheel boys keep coming around. Looked him in the eye and told him the truth. He seemed to understand as I explained the rules. Don't come around here again. These girls don't like you.

by WIREMAN on

Standing on the corner
Club scene raging all around
Scalpers like tobacco auctioneers
on the scent like a pack of hounds
Wind whistling thru my inner being
as if I was in a 1970's dream
Masses huddled and shivering
"where's the Irish bar?" a man asks
as I see a shamrock reflected in
his eye
Night filled with screw drivers and
"Can I see your drivers license", cardings
The dogs rule the stage as the cabs
parade by beneath the constantly changing skies

by Aurobindo321 on

it enters bin dean
vile liaise soon
king olive jive cert
cat human and bet.

by catalyst on

drunk at 1PM 'cause
i can't fold my hands
drunk at 1PM 'cause
i can't cross my legs
drunk at 1PM 'cause
i can't watch my breath

kendrick lamar spoke about swimming pools
and i thought that was nifty
bob dylan is still alive and
you're buying taylor swift albums

drunk at 1PM 'cause
taylor swift has a career
drunk at 1PM 'cause
all you poets delight me
drunk at 1PM 'cause
i wanted to write this

by WIREMAN on

Step right up
This here's Action Poetry
Brought to u by those of
us who keep it going.....

by Zuma on

i've read hank,
i've read hank,
& i've read hank.

i still don't like him.

the more i read, the more i don't.

i'll keep reading him.

to the point of despise.

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