Popcorn Poems!

I have to say at the outset that this is not an activity I personally ever played in a K12 setting. But in my first year at VCU my students told me about this — an activity in which students throw popcorn at each other, one after another, to determine who will say the next thing in a discussion. I’m not sure whether they ate the popcorn at the end or not. Probably not (unhygienic).

One of my goals in this course is not only to use twitter to teach you poetry, but to use twitter to teach you how to use twitter. I will soon have a page linked to the FAQ in which I spell out exactly why I like to use twitter for this course, but for now let me mention @mentions. When you tweet @ somebody, it pings their notification tab. People who follow a lot of other twitterers often cannot keep up with all the tweets coming in, and it’s easier to get their attention if you @mention them. This happens automatically when you reply to a tweet, but you can also strategically mention other users. For this activity, treat @mentions as if you somebody were throwing popcorn at you, and then use your own @mention to reciprocate for somebody else.

In each of these weekly activities, we will construct a poem as a class. I will give you (below, and also on twitter), the parameters I’d like you to follow as you come up with the poem; I’ll also give you the first line and the subject matter (to prevent chaos), and make the first mention. But remember you have to be mentioned by somebody before you can add a line. This is why the Popcorn Poems! activity runs the entire week: the whole thing needs to be completed by the end of whatever week it’s been assigned. Refer to my list of twitter users for this course to choose the next person to @mention; but if it looks like you’re going to be left out of the activity, don’t let it happen — ping the group with a tweet to #vizpoem that you’d like to play!

One other thing: I need you to use not only the #vizpoem hashtag, but #popcornpoems as well (for statistical reasons). This shouldn’t be a problem, even though I’m requiring you to add two #hashtags and a @mention, because you only ever write one line of poetry.




  1. 1 – Where are the poems in process to which we are contributing??
    2 – Is there another area for tweet responses? Given the tweet assignments, it seems like there should be lots of tweets by now but I see only 10-15.

  2. Apparently I tagged someone who wasn’t looking. Search under #popcornpoems — although to be clear, we’re building one poem and it doesn’t have to finish until this weekend.

  3. 1 – I found and tweeted to #popcornpoems after sending the SOS. :0 Sorry for not sending a “Disregard message” subsequently.

    2 – It seemed like you all were into second poem when, after F. Ford wrote line 10, you tweeted to @robinsonac5, “you’re next! First line: ‘An online poem’s already visual.'” What to do now? Just check site in morning and after work to see if it’s time to jump in?

  4. After reading this weeks popcorn poem, I noticed that the main thing that people focused on was rhyming. The first two parts ended with “visual” and “ritual” and the second two lines ended with “strand” and “hand”. Like I said in my first definition of poetry, many poems use rhyme and rhythm in their structures, which distinct them from plays/novels.

  5. I think this week’s popcorn poem is talking about how a poem can be online, on a screen instead of on a piece of paper, but can still give us the meaning it was intended to. Even when we read a poem online, we can still understand the imagery in it and imagine it in our heads. When reading poetry, we get so involved in it that we almost “need a hand” to get us back out of our imaginations and into the real world.

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