A GeoPoem Project in Columbus MS

You’ve probably heard of Geocaching, the sport where you use a GPS to locate hidden caches with a log and usually some items inside. In my Writing For New Media class, I was thinking about using this technique for writing poetry, but I decided I didn’t want to go around and hide a bunch of stuff. For one, I don’t have the right to stick a cache in some public places. And finding it might be difficult. I had also heard of Earthcaching, where you don’t find something, but instead you learn something about the location you are sent with your GPS coordinates.

We are also studying how stories or essays can be written on Google Maps by mapping the locations in the story and then writing parts of the story in the location descriptions. Google’s ability to let you create personal map layers (and share them) makes this possible.

The combination of these ideas is what led me to what I am calling a GeoPoem project. We are beginning this project in conjunction with The W’s Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing’s first Short Residency period and the 27th Annual Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium.

Here is the description of this project you’ll find on Google if you go to my map:

This Geopoem was started for my Writing for New Media class in 2015. The goal is to find each point on the map and add a stanza to the poem of that place, using hashtags to create your own poem that is also linked to each others’ stanzas by the hashtag for each place. The main hashtag for this poem is #gpcmswws — This should appear at the end of every contribution to the poem in Twitter, along with the hashtag for the location.

Your contribution should be one tweet from as many locations as you can find, if you are in my class. Your tweet may be a line of a poem or an independent twaiku or micro-poem. Your lines may be complete sentences or they may continue on with the next tweet (as with an enjambed line). If you use enjambment, consider that it might be read in different combinations, so you might want to break the line where it could work with other random sentences or partial sentences.

You may visit the locations on this map in any order at any time of day. Try to tweet your lines from that place or in the order you wrote them, so that your poem could be seen on your feed in one order. When we view the feed by hashtag, it may turn out differently.

Each tweet will be its own short poem, part of a longer poem or cycle, and part of the poem of that place.

Whenever possible, attach a photo from the place to your tweet, so those who can’t physically be in the place can see something of it. Please, do not include identifiable people in photos unless you have their permission.Images with people in the background are fine.

If you wish to add a location to the poem, include the main hashtag and suggest your location’s hashtag (follow the convention #gpcmsXX, where XX = two letters representing that location). Email them to me or send me a message in Twitter to @kdunkelberg.

Though I want my class to do this project in Twitter, it could also be done in Instagram. Doing it in Twitter will keep all of our posts together and will integrate well with Canvas. As this GeoPoem goes live, it might migrate to other platforms. Virtual geopoeming can be done using the pictures submitted with some or all of the tweets.

To find the GeoPoem location coordinates visit my map. (Links to an external site.)

Find as many of these locations as you can and add your line or lines. Incorporate the hashtags for each location. You can also use other hashtags as you wish, but always include the main hashtag and the location-specific hashtag.

You will do your project on Twitter, then submit your version of the poem here, either by submitting a link to your Twitter feed or by copying from your Twitter account and uploading a Word or other file for us to view.

The best way to get all of your tweets for this project to show up together is to start with a “Title Tweet.” Tweet your title (you can include the main hashtag if you want) and then reply to that tweet whenever you want to add to the poem. You can then view the title and all replies together by going to the title tweet. We will still see the other tweets individually when we view by hashtag.

Anyone who wants to participate may do so on Twitter or on another social media platform. Anyone who wants to may take this idea and create their own GeoPoem map in Google based on locations of your choice.

Published by Kendall Dunkelberg

I am a poet, translator, and professor of literature and creative writing at Mississippi University for Women, where I direct the Low-Res MFA in Creative Writing, the undergraduate concentration in creative writing, and the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium. I have published three books of poetry, Barrier Island Suite, Time Capsules, and Landscapes and Architectures, as well as a collection of translations of the Belgian poet Paul Snoek, Hercules, Richelieu, and Nostradamus. I live in Columbus with my wife, Kim Whitehead; son, Aidan; and dog, Aleida.

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