Yesterday, thanks to a Facebook post by Shape&Nature Press, I read a great post on Literary Hub. In Poet Selfies: Searching for the Thing-In-Itselfie, 39 poets respond to questions about selfies. The answers range from surrealist and goofy to heartfelt and thought provoking. It was also cool to see the non-traditional selfies that some of the poets supplied and I felt inspired by their responses to write one of my own. I was at first surprised and then not surprised by my answer, which I’m sharing below.
Question: What is the relationship between poetry and the selfie?
I don't like my selfies when I'm the only person in them. I've tried and failed to take a solo selfie I like, even in awesome situations like at concerts or while rock climbing. And it's not because I don't like how I look. It's because I don't like seeing myself alone.
I'm an only child, but I didn't mind that until I was 8 and my parents moved us from a New York City apartment building that served as my neighborhood to a small town in Pennsylvania where the kids on the street thought I was weird and made fun of me (for being tall or Episcopalian or a bookworm or something—and later for having purple hair).
I made friends at school and at the church where my mom worked, but something in me never got over the loneliness of the next 10 years spent without any neighborhood friends. For the first year or so, I had imaginary friends. Tracy lived three blocks down the hill and was always sitting on her front porch swing when I walked by to get her on my way to the corner store. David hung out in the yard that bordered ours in the back and would hop the fence to climb part way up the spruce tree and then just sit with me.
When those friends faded away I turned to nature and books. These have been my refuge and my sources of inspiration, poetic and otherwise, ever since.
I take selfies with other people to capture moments, and also to prove to myself that I'm not alone. Look, I have a friend, she's not imaginary, she shows up in pixels!
Answer: The poem explores what the selfie avoids.