One of the more interesting discussions that my students and I had while reading David Crystal’s essay was about the “Txt laureate” poetry contest that T-Mobile held in the UK to celebrate World Poetry day in 2007. Contestants sent their poems one line at a time. The winner, Ben Ziman-Bright, and the runner up, sixty-eight-year-old Eileen Bridge, each wrote love poems. Ziman-Bright’s was entirely conventional:
The wet rustle of rain
can dampen today. Your text
buoys me above oil-rainbow puddles
like a paper boat, so that even
soaked to the skin
I am grinning.
Ms. Bridge’s poem was in textese:
O hart that sorz
My luv adorz
He mAks me live
He mAks me give
Myslf 2 him
As my luv porz
Most of my students were surprised to find that they actually preferred Ms. Bridge’s poem because the enjoyed the range of readings they could get from it, ranging from an almost explicitly sexual one to the more sentimentally romantic. One person even commented on the potential for reading at least a hint of violence into the speaker’s saying that her love makes her give herself to him. They also felt, and I think with some justification, that Ms. Bridge’s poem actually shows more skill and craft.
What do you all think?
Cross-posted on Because It’s All Connected.