March 1, 2010

The Yawp

I propose that we engineer a poetry phenomenon. I propose the Yawp. The Yawp is a brief poem, recited spontaneously in a public space, without preamble, expectation, or explanation. Unlike flash mobs, the Yawp will clearly transmit a thought, emotion, or experience, and will not be an expressive experiment meant to test social or cultural norms. The audience is king of the Yawp.

The Yawp poem should be no more than three breaths, or approximately 10 seconds, in duration. Any longer is an imposition. The content of the Yawp poem must suit the audience it is delivered to, having an easily recognizable sentiment, comment, or point. Since the Yawp is both sudden and transitory, clarity should be prized over conceit. There is no prescription as to the structure and purpose of a Yawp. Successful Yawps will survive; unsuccessful Yawps will be jeered and forgotten.

Individual Yawps have neither a title nor an owner, and will ideally be picked up and repeated by others as one would a toast. The recording of Yawps is encouraged; it is the people’s poem and should be distributed freely through the usual channels. The Yawp is ours; the "I" of Yawps is the universal masquerading as the personal.

Yawps will be more successful if delivered in the arenas and on the occasions with which the reciter is familiar and comfortable. If you frequent parks, Yawp in parks; if you ride on trains, Yawp on the train; if you have a watering hole, Yawp from your stool. Anyone can deliver a Yawp. If you’re shy, recruit an extrovert to do the Yawping for you.

A Yawp, by way of example:

I fall in love like a boy
leaping from puddle to puddle,
blowing up blue sky,
making mud out of water.

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