What Should Action Poetry Become?

Eleven years ago, a Litkicks reader posted a suggestion: could I create a free poetry board on this site? I thought it sounded like fun, and thus Action Poetry was born. I added a twist by inviting readers of each contributed poem to write short poems in response.

12,000 poems later, I’ve had to temporarily shut down the Action Poetry stream for the technical redesign of the site (which, you may have noticed, is still in progress, which is why the design of these pages keeps changing a bit every day). Several friends of Litkicks have asked me how long it will take to bring the poetry board back. The truth is, I am slowing down the restoration on purpose, because I want to rethink the whole thing.

In its eleventh year, I still find the individual poems thrilling and complex, and I know the poetry board means a lot to many people. But I didn’t feel the level of flow and interactivity has been anywhere near as strong as it should have been. I shut it down because it needs an infusion of new ideas, and a new display format, and maybe some social networking hookups. I want the whole Action Poetry package to be as good as the individual voices have always been. But what exactly does this mean? I’m trying to figure this out right now.

So, poets, I’m asking for help. If you have any thoughts about what exactly the next version of this open poetry board should be, and how we can make it better than it was, please post a comment. It was a reader suggestion that originally inspired Action Poetry, so I’m definitely open to hearing more ideas about what it should become next.

58 Responses

  1. …by far, and without a
    …by far, and without a close competitor, the reaction poems are the jewels of action poetry. anything to encourage reaction is suggested. the creative subjects that root poems illuminate set the conditions for purity and authenticity. like the beatles, we can only write about holding hands and wanting your love for so long. here’s to the wonderfully twisted action poets. (whiskey glass raised) also, advice on change and innovation>>never start over, just add to…. kaizen.

  2. I have two ideas. Although I
    I have two ideas. Although I don’t think there was anything wrong with the way it was before. These are just possibilities.

    First, It would be cool to have a direct/private message function. Telling the poet publically about the poem is cool but I think it would increase value to be able to privately message individual poets about their poems. This could increase the “social networking hookup” stock of AP.

    Second, I feel like there should be an “archives” section. So that we can look back at past poems and continue to review them. There’s been many instances where I loved a poem so much but felt bad that I couldn’t get back to it whenever I wanted to read it, after 15-16 posts it simply disappeared.

    Anyways, I don’t think by any means AP was broke or needs fixing. These are just my 2 cents on the matter, for whatever its worth.

  3. Thanks for good comments so
    Thanks for good comments so far. One thing I want to assure — I have all the poems, and will definitely be bringing back the archives. They will be published forever. Thanks for these thoughts.

  4. I think that Action Poetry
    I think that Action Poetry needs an editing feature for the poets…like you used to have. Then typos & miscues may be immediately corrected or corrected shortly. Other than that, I liked the old format. (I’m not into facebook nor twitter at the moment, so I don’t care whether or not these features are present.)

  5. I liked AP as it was very
    I liked AP as it was very much and do miss it, although I thoroughly appreciate that now is a time you may wish to reflect, and possibly alter the thing.

    I don’t know if I’d add private messaging to it, but the archive aspect I’m all for and am glad to know they’re all archived. As far as private messaging does go, I’d say that would be a fine site-wide feature in general but I wouldn’t make it an AP feature exclusively.

    I don’t know what else to add -AP was pretty great as it was, to me. I don’t believe the form was deficient at all but I haven’t your perspective on it. The form as it was was inviting, and not overlit -it was cozy, like a small late night chatroom for poets.

    (The prospect of changing AP keeps bringing this John Cage page to mind,
    http://www.ubu.com/aspen/aspen4/diary.html, heh.)

  6. When in doubt make a change
    When in doubt make a change Levi……the whole format since the change from old litkicks has been extremely distant and lacking in the openness that it originally had in the initial format……action poetry is the last remnant of that old streaming on the page past, albeit more hidden in it’s instantaneous responsiveness. I honestly feel without that instantaneous responsiveness it ceases to be Action Poetry and perhaps that is why you feel that something here ain’t exactly right. If I had my druthers Levi, I’d hope that you would turn the action poetry into more of a 1st thought/best thought call and response poetry jam…….that’s my wired opinion and it’s been like that for sometime now……

  7. We also liked AP as it was.
    We also liked AP as it was. However, here’s a suggestion: how about enabling an archive for each individual poet by just typing in that poet’s user name…that way, even if a poet doesn’t have a poem on the ‘recently added’ list, all readers could access all added poems by any contributing writer. Equally, it would be great if someone could type a poet’s name in Google search to find a link such as: “Duncan Brown is on Literary Kicks”. This would at once widen the profile of both the site and individual writers.

    The main thing is…get it going again as soon as possible please!

    Duncan Brown / Sheila Faber

  8. I have a few ideas, as I’ve
    I have a few ideas, as I’ve seen many a site use new formats.

    The idea of possibly having a chat plugin as well as the poetry feedback really appeals to me, because along with having feedback on poems we write the old fashioned way, we can have a sort of free exchange of information and even have a sort of free form poetry slam type deal on the chat and not clog anything up. This lets people who want to take time to write have what they want while at the same time giving people who want a more rapid response something. I’ve always found that a chat system works better for more rapid fire poetry and could even allow for a sort of collaborative free-style poem written in the chat by all the participants.

    Also the fact that with a chat, if two poets chose to, they could have a competition of sorts if they so choose, with the other people of the site being spectators and judges. Not that I want this site to be purely about competition, but it would liven things up and might even bring fresh blood to the table.

    No offense meant here, but I think that adding a Facebook/Twitter plug-in would be a waste of time, and might even be detrimental to some. I purposefully choose a different name when doing my poetry here than any other online alias because I want the freedom to write what I really want to. Part of the appeal of this place is that it doesn’t have those things. I have the privacy to be truly creative here, whereas on Facebook, everything poetic or artistic is turned into so much drama.

    This is of course a tl;dr(to long;didn’t read) post, but those are just my two overlong redundant pennies. I am very glad that Action Poetry is coming back though, as it means a whole lot to me. I’ve been coming here since 2008 and I am very happy to have a sort of home here. Whatever comes of this site, I will of course continue to use it.

  9. I really appreciate these
    I really appreciate these responses, poet friends — thank you.

    WIREMAN, the truth hurts but I know you have a point. Yeah, I do miss the fast-moving energy of the earlier version of Action Poetry. But, at the same time … the Internet has changed a lot since 2004, and I’m not sure if the exact chemistry we had then would work in the age of twitter and iPhones. However … it’s a goal I’d like to keep in mind, to bring that sense of speed and fun back. Let’s try to make this happen.

    Poetpunk, Duncan, Zuma, Steve, I’m pondering your points too. Hmmm ….

  10. I’d just like to echo
    I’d just like to echo poetpunk’s point about Facebook and twitter. Please do not bring those into AP.

    And I really like Duncan’s point about having a list of poets. It would provide an effective archive and would be cool to be able to browse by poet’s names


  11. Catalyst, I do not want to do
    Catalyst, I do not want to do anything that would alienate the people who make Action Poetry work. But I need to know why you think Facebook integration would be a bad thing? If it were done sloppily or thoughtlessly, it would be a mess, but I do think it might be nice to allow people to optionally share the poems they write on Facebook. (Those who wish to remain anonymous, like poetpunk, should of course be able to not use Facebook). I don’t see Twitter as fitting in here — Twitter’s news-oriented sensibility doesn’t seem particularly poetry-friendly to me — but Facebook means a lot to many people, and often does seem conducive to creativity and personal expression. So please tell me, why exactly do you think an optional Facebook hookup would be bad for Action Poetry?

  12. Levi, Having Action Poetry on
    Levi, Having Action Poetry on Facebook would invite in plenty of trolls. I know people who use facebook & that is a real problem…

  13. The way you put it, it doesn
    The way you put it, it doesn’t sound bad. I’m not against having an option to share it with Facebook. This is simply a personal matter, I would almost always choose to remain anonymous. However, if others wish to share their poetry on Facebook, it seems like a nice addition to AP to allow them to do so.

  14. i don’t know.
    i don’t know.

    it’s either action poetry or it isn’t. and for the last eight years, um, no.

  15. Levi, I like the idea of
    Levi, I like the idea of having something like a “share on Facebook” option, sorta like how such sites as Youtube, tumblr, and most Blogger pages have. I think that could be a sort of happy medium between fully integrating Facebook and forcing poets who want to share a poem they wrote here to copy and paste their poem into a status update or something. Plus with a simple “share” button, that means that if someone wants to start trolling, they have to actually sign up and then write a response to the poem.

    I like the idea of simply having a “share” button , it seems like a balance between keeping Action Poetry “pure”(and by that I mean, for poets writing poetry and getting feedback, not some idiot just making trollish remarks) while at the same time allowing people to share work they’ve done and the works of others.

  16. I’m with Wireman… Part of
    I’m with Wireman… Part of the chemistry and poetic unfolding was that rapid-fire response system of the early early days. Then again, it is also a great exercise to be able to be inspired by one poem and then write something more thought out in response. Perhaps we could have two options for poets? An option for free flow train of thought and then one for the times when we want to tinker or get serious feedback??? Thanks so much for even considering keeping it around

  17. Levi…..really down with
    Levi…..really down with making action poetry take (it has to)the next step……for moving on is what action poetry is all about. The 1st thought-best thought writing philosophy many of us are influenced by craves change, it is the way of all life. Well time is wastin for this old Wired man and I most definitely need my Action Poetry back so we can move forth…..I want….I need it….I gots to have….It is my habit, and apparently a lot of others too….let us get the Actiion back on the road ASAP.

  18. Thanks again for all the
    Thanks again for all the comments. Well, I have a lot to think about. This will take a couple of weeks at best — I’m thinking early November for some preliminary stuff. I will also possibly post some more ideas/questions because this feedback is very helpful.

  19. To Whom It May Concern:
    To Whom It May Concern:

    Just yesterday, as I was trying to get the link to this thread &/or to Litkicks.

    I used both Internet Explorer & Firefox & neither would bring up your page. A “Drupal error” was cited. I hope the bugs can be worked out so that your page(s) come up every time they are clicked on. Thanks.

  20. Hi Steve — that was my host
    Hi Steve — that was my host’s server crashing. It was down for about two hours total yesterday — should be all good now.

  21. mnaz, do you care to offer
    mnaz, do you care to offer any constructive feedback/criticism? Or did you just plan on blindly bashing Action Poetry and the poets involved for the past 8 years?

  22. i didn’t plan on it, catalyst
    i didn’t plan on it, catalyst, but maybe i did.

    to me, if it can’t happen in real time, like it used to happen so brilliantly here, then it’s not “action poetry,” that’s all. to me, at least. one man’s take on it.

    did not mean to offend.

  23. it won’t be long, i think it
    it won’t be long, i think it clear
    before someone simply explodes
    & writes a poem here


  24. I’m really inspired by all
    I’m really inspired by all these comments, including the disagreements — thanks again. If nobody had responded to my question, I would have assumed that nobody cared about Action Poetry, and might have decided not to bring it back at all. Now, I realize that people do care. I care too, and I’m excited to reinvent it.

    Mnaz, I get where you’re coming from — but I do want to mention that one reason I had to shut off the wide-open fast-moving version of Action Poetry in 2004 is that it got dragged down by the work of a single hardworking troll who called himself “caliscouri” and took advantage of the fully open format to harass other poets, invade my privacy and that of several other Litkicks regulars, and in general act like a complete violent psycho. It certainly took all the fun and joy out of the forum for me.

    I hate to admit that one person can have so much impact, but after trying everything from IP blocking to consulting legal advice, I finally decided that the Internet wasn’t ready for a moderation-free open poetry forum. I wrote about this ordeal (and a few other things) here. This is why I changed the format to the quieter and slower version starting in 2004.

    Zuma — that’s okay with me! Hah …

  25. Action reactions
    Action reactions
    Wanting to chomp down
    on the rind
    All of us in it together
    No matter what the weather
    All comes out as poetry
    For o say can you see
    Wired me
    There must be a way

  26. mnaz, thanks for making your
    mnaz, thanks for making your voice heard. i’m just happy you get your point of view on the table. no offense taken.

  27. Action poetry’s dead
    Action poetry’s dead
    The poets are blue
    It’s your damned site,
    Code it the way you want to.

    And I think I just blew chunks all over my muse….

  28. now there’s some a. p. ! ….
    now there’s some a. p. ! ….
    thanks for the background, levi. i read your link (which you wrote in ’09, remembering events of early ’03) . . . early ’03 is when i stumbled onto this place (obviously it has a much longer history than that), and it was like nothing i’d ever seen on the web— something like 28 real-time boards, burning with passion and the issues of the day, driven by poets and artists and expoundificators, a few of them right on the edge … the whole idea was nuts. off the rails. and incredibly powerful. and yes, i remember the trolls. and of course had no idea that those exchanges escalated to the level you describe …. and for lack of a better way to put it: eff those slime-sucking cretins.

  29. Action bleeding
    Action bleeding
    night and day
    1st thought/best thought
    Waiting for the sun
    Cyber complexities
    amidst dire need
    We wanna bleed
    We need and believe
    it’s gotta be heard
    Weigh the pluses
    They far outweigh
    the minuses
    Yeah I got me the stage
    love to put them Action
    words of mine on parade
    Over the years perhaps
    my best stuff
    Still raging out of me
    willing to pass the takeoff
    & fly performance test
    Maybe this thread is the
    way it could be done the best
    With a bit of instantaneous
    interaction, let’s start
    this Action party & rage…..

  30. highly evolved beings
    highly evolved beings
    don’t need a lot of sleep,
    the rest of the week i’m
    in bed for 10 hours or
    maybe the entire day but tonight
    i’m taking Dylan Thomas’ advice
    and drinking coffee and
    smoking cigarettes and reading
    Rumi–I don’t get him,
    all i really wanna do is
    lay down with a woman
    and talk about where
    we’ve both been
    and maybe write
    a few lines, finish
    the coffee, exchange
    it for wine, and
    watch the sunrise.
    yeah–i often
    forget about
    the rising part

  31. P.S. Action poetry ain’t dead
    P.S. Action poetry ain’t dead…its just in a coma

    although i always wondered what it would be like to hump a corpse!

  32. The action ain’t dead
    The action ain’t dead
    It’s just bleeding on
    a thread @ the bottom
    of Mr. Asher’s blog
    Just waiting for the
    few of us in the mob
    Action will never die
    It will always be in
    it’s rightful place at the
    top, in the sky

    I have 1 ? For you Levi ……why move action way down the board where it is more obscure and less likely to receive more input?

  33. My comment is that the poems
    My comment is that the poems ought to be able to be spaced out as one would want them, not always right justified. i don’t know if italics and bold are options but that would be good too.

    On a more philosophical note regarding the content, energy and flow of the poems themselves, I would say that the advancing influence of the internet on the minds and lives of individuals had some kind of effect that led to human beings (and by extension, obviously, wannabe poets) being somewhat less naive, less free, less unselfconsciously spunky in their proclamations and eruptions, in that the initial burst of creativity that was seen in the earlier days of this set of pages came from a pre-internet generation and was thus differently coloured, pre-Youtube ubiquity, pre-Facebook ubiquity etc etc. The dissemination of a million strands of knowledge, right or wrong, instantly available, from every direction had some sort of effect. I am not sure as to the mechanics of this or, for that matter, whether it is just something in my own mind, but it is somethiing I have thought about, considered from time to time.

    Connected to everyone else, we become disconnected from ourselves.
    There is a sense that words stopped meaning what they used to mean which came from there suddenly being so many more words out there on the internet.

    Ok, I am waffling. Will cease.

  34. It’s all about action poetry
    It’s all about action poetry
    Form stifles stride
    A train you jump on board
    and just ride
    Not the place for the wary
    More akin to jam not slam
    1st thought/best thought mantra
    Leave the 2nd thoughts for
    another medium
    Action poetry not to be confused
    with straight poetry
    Different animals
    It’s got to be spontaneous
    Not for all, but it’s for me
    I find that for me, as a poet who writes to perform, Action Poetry gives me an arsenal of word streams that initially start the performance and then allow me to fly within the free form Action provides. This Wednesday night when I perform these words I’ll go to my action archive and read some of the ones from the past and assimilate new thoughts and ideas then use them in the performance. That’s why Action Poetry is so important to me. This medium has enabled me to collect a paycheck after each show and it also enables me to pay other poets and musicians to perform. So Levi I have to say thank you my friend for providing this outlet where I have been growing as a word man performer for the past 11 years. It is my sincere hope that we will all of us continue to grow and prosper as poets here.

  35. To Whom It May Concern:
    To Whom It May Concern:
    Firefox picks up Litkicks.com on my PC;
    however Internet Explorer still tries to pick
    display Litkicks without success. This has
    been happening since around October 16th.

    I wonder if the same Drupal error is causing
    the broken links. Thanks for your continued
    attention. Appreciate this site very much.

  36. Steve, do you have a super
    Steve, do you have a super-old version of Internet Explorer, like IE6 or IE7? You gotta upgrade that stuff. I think it works on relatively recent versions of IE. Please let me know what version you have …

  37. How to keep the love alive
    How to keep the love alive
    Losing my religion
    Slip away….slip away, way, way….
    Autumn leaves appear
    Action does the limbo
    Down here at the bottom
    Listening to the jolly boys
    do rehab
    Waiting….like a good citizen
    Action poetry………..

  38. .time on my hands.
    .time on my hands.
    .cause of an upgrade.
    .what to do.what to do.
    .from other lands.
    .the girls were played.
    .drink some booze.drink some booze.

  39. rehab just ain’t in my bones
    rehab just ain’t in my bones
    liver tellin’ yo mama jokes
    stomach encased in flames
    i got jazz in my blood
    hooked an IV up to bird
    wailin’ away on that horn
    navigating the maps inside my skull
    a bull or a bear
    i trapped a bald eagle in my mind
    ’cause my heart is a penguin

    action poetry lives!

  40. Diehard bottom feeders
    Diehard bottom feeders
    Last vestiges from the
    Grand social experiment
    Where we was out there
    on the edge
    Trying to finda
    Trying to finda
    Prodigal sons and daughters
    Fear strikes out
    Pain always remains
    Countdown 1-2-3-4-5-…….
    Rise up like the Phoenix
    that u b action poetry
    U were and always will B

  41. of blues and joy….busted
    of blues and joy….busted out of a lion’s den. tested the world until it tamed me. tasted chocolates and wine. felt the softest skin. saw the most incredible sights. heard canyon birds make music as the evening smells rose from the canyon floor. the balancing of indulgement and restraint, blind faith and intellect, rest and work, poverty and prosperity, and of blues and joy….

  42. Slinging in the rain
    Slinging in the rain
    Waiting for the wind
    Watching for the burn
    Wondering on an instant
    Giving it all you have
    Inspired by the flow
    Before there was ever go
    Need the need
    Need the bended knees
    O these things I need to say
    Exiles unraveled
    Electronic beats lead the way
    They will be alive 200 years after
    my grandfather was born
    How do you do-doodlie-do?


    By Steve Plonk

    Here’s my little poem on the fly,
    Competing for space in the internet sky—
    May your eyes dart back & forth,
    Back & forth, as it were,
    Kindly readers, oh so social,
    Stinting so nicely, for sure…
    May these lines affect you spritely,
    In mornings & nightly
    Soothe the spirit & quicken your thoughts
    Hear this voice ring true,
    To uplift all of you…

  44. Slipping into darkness
    Slipping into darkness
    Whoa, back to normalcy
    Thing I know little about
    Everything just plain “WET!”
    All the patches and fixes
    seem to have worked
    Action recollections
    Passing storm
    Lots of alcohol consumed
    Best way for mere mortals
    to survive all the gloom & doom

  45. All Hallows Eve
    All Hallows Eve
    Samhain I spend waiting
    waiting for
    that elegant ring
    that means you’ve returned
    safe and sound.

  46. Is it possible
    Is it possible
    Perhaps we’ve hit
    rock bottom finally
    Yet I truly feel that
    AP is brewing in
    the lab

  47. Maybe rock bottom at last
    Maybe rock bottom at last
    but in any case
    I’m looking forward to seeing all of you
    on the new brewed

  48. meanwhile i was still really
    meanwhile i was still really thinkin’
    of rocking this very bottom
    in my new hot rod lincoln…
    -like, if this ain’t the very last
    then what comes next i might ask
    -i *could* rile a pile of defilement
    in the utterly endless text & bask…
    -but if i were to be *that* bold
    i *do* still gots the untitled tale untold…



  49. There we go right back on the
    There we go right back on the main screen, next to Neil Young….ready for inclusion, infusion of the action words…

  50. Trips through the garage.
    Trips through the garage. The trash carried, the rakes and cutters. same star is always there. The once great meadow now an estate. And the world revolves around them all. The importance of each life. Outcomes only temporary, pain endured. Lock ’em down girls. Pull the shades tight. The bikers and wheel boys keep coming around. Looked him in the eye and told him the truth. He seemed to understand as I explained the rules. Don’t come around here again. These girls don’t like you.

  51. Standing on the corner
    Standing on the corner
    Club scene raging all around
    Scalpers like tobacco auctioneers
    on the scent like a pack of hounds
    Wind whistling thru my inner being
    as if I was in a 1970’s dream
    Masses huddled and shivering
    “where’s the Irish bar?” a man asks
    as I see a shamrock reflected in
    his eye
    Night filled with screw drivers and
    “Can I see your drivers license”, cardings
    The dogs rule the stage as the cabs
    parade by beneath the constantly changing skies

  52. it enters bin dean
    it enters bin dean
    vile liaise soon
    king olive jive cert
    cat human and bet.

  53. drunk at 1PM ’cause
    drunk at 1PM ’cause
    i can’t fold my hands
    drunk at 1PM ’cause
    i can’t cross my legs
    drunk at 1PM ’cause
    i can’t watch my breath

    kendrick lamar spoke about swimming pools
    and i thought that was nifty
    bob dylan is still alive and
    you’re buying taylor swift albums

    drunk at 1PM ’cause
    taylor swift has a career
    drunk at 1PM ’cause
    all you poets delight me
    drunk at 1PM ’cause
    i wanted to write this

  54. Step right up
    Step right up
    This here’s Action Poetry
    Brought to u by those of
    us who keep it going…..

  55. i’ve read hank,
    i’ve read hank,
    i’ve read hank,
    & i’ve read hank.

    i still don’t like him.

    the more i read, the more i don’t.

    i’ll keep reading him.

    to the point of despise.

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Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!