Your Gift Survived

I love innovative poetry. I think a lot of people see poets in the same light as politicians – they are either ranty and extremist or old white men. We poets are often seen as pretentious and yet saying nothing meaningful – again like politicians. This makes it hard to show new techniques and ideas, it makes it hard to connect to your audience and it makes it hard to experiment.

The main thing that I want to do in writing poetry is finding new and exciting ways of writing and reading poetry. I have written Three Random Word poems, Poetry Postcards and After Poems. I’ve also written Found Poetry – which I first heard of when I entered and won the 2012 New York Times Found Poetry Competition. Found Poetry is taking an existing piece of text and creating a new poem from it.

Since 2009 I’ve been following brothers Hank and John Green on their YouTube channel Vlogbrothers. I love the community (known as Nerdfighteria) and their massive contribution to education, entertainment and charity. The lovely thing about Nerdfighteria is that no one ever looks down on you for being a nerd, for being enthusiastic about the things you love – even poetry.

I decided to combine these two things and write a Found Poem using only the comments from one particular YouTube video that John Green made about the exhibition ‘Ai Weiwei – According to What?’ (curated by his incredibly talented wife, Sarah Urist Green). It’s a wonderful video about an amazing subject and there were some insightful, humorous and moving comments.


Your Gift Survived

The youth of today is listening without losing
itself to the politics of a billion people.
Communication isn’t just art – whether or not
I see it, no matter the subject
my ignorance fades and I become Ai/I
keeping the human in humanity alive.

It’s a hard line to walk. Bring me to silence
and command my attention, to remember
and honor, to use the same building material again.
We stare at reconstructed art and poetry,
the musical architecture. It has meaning:
to want to make something happen, to look backwards
and forwards and to make me hold on.

The story behind rips your guts out, makes you think
for a moment – it changes the numbers back to humans,
rising people from their lives so often consumed with
meaningless criticism. Art meets the power, pass this around,
beautiful and tragic it will slip away so you force me
to question that moment, demonstrate your rights.

And there is no comparison.


I would like to thank John Green for the original inspiration as well as all of the commenters: Nik Warkoski; MikaylaRaePhish; Keeley Smith; Dan Noland; Sara Hargrave; essennagerry; Jessica Luo; cassmatazz; Jayde Makenzie; Jessica Lucas; ImpakaWarrior; bemyanchorage; Lyria0chan; SirDavies; captainawesomeisme; Lucinda886; Daniel Schilling; ClareG161; Tishia Arnold; stompySharpNpointy; FaerieatHeart13; Sarah Proctor; Piet Ruig; MidnightAge; pickletoes88; Cecilia McBrien; Puggle64; Molly Brewer; Humori; BasementRuthie; tobortine; bluebanshee3; Jonny Strutt; brkatimachor; Ronja Sun.


11 thoughts on “Your Gift Survived

  1. chrisnelson61 says:

    I think that you are right when you say that it is hard to be innovative without coming across as being either pretentious or crass, and yet it is equally difficult to connect to an audience in a new and exciting way. I guess all one can do is try to experiment and find styles that please ones-self (at least in the moment) and hope that they reach others.
    Meanwhile keep on writing and I’m going to check out some of the things that you have mentioned.

    1. vicklinde says:

      I think that poetry is a really innovative form but that the most new and challenging works and artists are often not seen outside of the little poetry bubble so the general public often have a skewed view of poetry. But finding new techniques is always so much fun, I love doing it!
      I love the Ted Hughes prize for highlighting innovation – that’s always a great shortlist.

      1. chrisnelson61 says:

        To be honest the ‘Ted Hughes’ is not something I’ve ever looked at (I will now though!). Thanks for the reply, and ,yes, I agree, writing poetry is always fun BUT never easy!! I guess that’s part of the thrill.
        Take care, Chris.

  2. jessicagartlandn says:

    WOW I just started watching John Greene and company yesterday. i watched somewhere near half the history vids available and all the literature. I am addicted!! This captures so much of it’s spirit.

    “It’s a hard line to walk. Bring me to silence
    and command my attention, to remember
    and honor, to use the same building material again.”

    I absolutely recognize this tension. I love the idea of poetry as architecture of a sort.

    1. vicklinde says:

      John and Hank do an amazing job and are really amazing at using technology to make art and enhance lives – heroes of mine for that.
      I find that the messages of art and poetry can be subtle or can scream and often you see something and react in a very different way when you know the method and the story behind a piece.

      1. jessicagartlandn says:

        Art that teaches it is amazing! I love that they are proving that you can use social media (in this case youtube) in a way that teaches and contributes to people, especially youth. And it’s fun!! There is a vid that houses an “open letter to Authors” that i thought was great . It was about how unimportant ” writer intent” is once it hits the masses. I try and remind myself when I am writing or more like showing someone my writings that what I meant may not be what they take form it and vice versa. Especially when what they see or feel may be negative in a way I didn’t intend. I keep that in mind as well when I here the nay Sayers about poetry in general. I figure they just have not read the poem that speaks to them yet. As is the same for visual art.

        1. vicklinde says:

          It takes time and often patience to find any form of art that works for you – I think we are information saturated sometimes so that it feels like there’s too much and nothing that is relevant. Which is why we need to keep writing and keep finding new ways of presenting poetry!

  3. harmonioustew says:

    this is a great idea. it’s interesting to see the poetry in speech that’s presented as prose. everyone has their own rhythms and styles when they speak. the thing that makes writing poetry hard–at least for me–is that since it uses fewer words, you feel more pressured as a writer to make it “deep” or “meaningful.” thanks for reading my post and following my blog. i humbly return the favor and look forward to reading more of your work. since you’ve been writing for a long time, i’m sure your voice has been through many changes.

    1. vicklinde says:

      It’s amazing what happens when you take words and phrases out of their original content and I love seeing how text changes in relation to the words you put either side.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s