With the mobile phone becoming one’s single window to the world, and SMSing one of the new preferred ways of communication, it is only natural that people have become creative about it. Caferati, an online writing community, has called for people to try their hand at being a poet through an SMS poetry contest.
The rules are simple – the entire poem in English must be short enough to fit into a single 160-character SMS. The subject – anything under the sun. But if you need a trigger, then the organisers have some tips for you: “Since Valentine’s Day is around the corner, write about for or against love.” There is no age or creative restrictions. If you can fit a sonnet into 160 characters, you are on.
A six-member jury will select the winning entries, which will win prizes sponsored by the British Council of India.
To enter the contest all one needs to do is SMS KGPOET to 8888 and follow the instruction thereafter. Further details are available at http://www.caferati.com/contests/SMS.htm.
Caferati, which is organising the competition for the second time in India, is a group of writers who came together via the online networking forum, Ryze, and since then have grown as a separate online forum for writers ‘who choose to write in English’.
But can creativity be constrained to such specifics? “Why not,” asked Griffin, face of the online writers forum. “Haiku and Senryu, in their original Japanese form, required only 17 syllables, no more, no less. Basho and others used the form to say things of eternal beauty. Sonnets require 14 lines in a strict meter. Look at what Shakespeare did with it. Many other poetic forms have even stricter guidelines.”
“SMS poetry is just another poetic form. Its guidelines are simple and as much a stimulating challenge or a constraint as is writing in any poetic form that has rules,” Griffin said.
“The contest aims to acknowledge that SMSes – the abbreviations and creative short forms that characterise short messages – are vibrant, alive, and creative, and very much an avenue of artistic expression for a writer. To take it less seriously, the aim is to have a little fun as well,” he added.
In the global context, British newspaper ‘The Guardian’ has been regularly conducting mobile poetry contests for quite sometime now.