Hashtags: New Phrase, New Use, But Is It Excessive?




dreamy riding

smooth and silky,


Dip and push, slipping,

like a fish,

forward, upward,


Maneuvering so slowly,

skimming easily

over shallow rocks

and branches

and sailing

over deep pools. Look,

green abound on all four sides,

water smooth clear like glass

and reflecting

a mirror image, so still! of

trees and sky and water,

and clouds,

and the snowy geese flying overhead.

What silence but for the steady dip

of paddles pushing, sliding, moving,

and water rippling

on the bow

as we cut

and glide and sail.

Turn and stop and shoot

forward with such ease! what

was once a barrier

is so no more.


now a pathway where

two by chance may meet

and greet

the other with “fair morning!”

Cut and glide and sail,

graceful and quiet,

listen to the water’s flow

oh listen! to the water’s


I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve changed style slightly for a more dreamy, nineteenth-century feel, partly because where I am, especially this summer, has quite that vibe to it. Green and flowers and trees and rivers…they call out for this. Slam poetry power is so last season. But no, I know–that’s my style, that’s me. Who am I without that particular poetry posture? (Jean Val-Jean! #LesMis) I’m pretty sure that once this old-fashioned (but tried and true!) New Englandy poetry will wear off before winter. Seriously. Hopefully. Probably. Don’t worry about it if you like it, it’s not gone for good. My creative inspiration just currently from somewhere else.

You know, speaking of hashtags, what’s up with them? They were born from the Twitter sensation, for those who don’t know; a hashtag is a “tag”, or a phrase that summarizes your post or a certain subject within it (#poetry). Sure, that’s pretty cool on the ‘net, since it’s a quick way to let other’s know what’s going on and how you feel about it, but now they’re starting to land in everyday conversation (#hottie #kewl #startofschoolfreakout #kaboom etc.) And commercials. (“So instead of #mycarsucks, you’re like #pandorastreaming…”) It isn’t really as great liberally used in the vernacular as it is online.

Maybe not, though. I hate to sound so wishy-washy, it’s like totally unprofessional (so is using “like” in a superfluous manner. That was for exaggeration), but perhaps #hashtags are becoming a meme. No, not an internet meme, they’re already that; a meme is a cultural idea or image. English is a living language, so words like “blog,” “post,” “share,” “vlog,” “status,” and yes, symbols like the number sign #, appear and evolve. Poor lonely little # has been without a meaning for years. Until the current digital era it was only used for indicating numbers, entering gated communities, and defining F# instead of G flat. (On a perfectly tuned piano, by the way, they’re two different notes, but on a conventionally tuned piano, they’re the same so that all the notes will fit) It had a lonely life, long mocked by the other symbols on the top row of the keyboard, symbols whose meaning was rich and well used. Now the hash, as it’s called in England, has come to have a beautiful new renaissance and intensely furious use, along with the caret symbol ^ (For emoticons ^.^) and the asterisk * (for emphasizing a word where italic font is *not* an option). Feel happy for the little hash, for the composite word it has been reincarnated into. #melodramatic.

So how do you feel about the hashtag? Do you like it and use it, or do you avoid it and scowl at people who say “lol #ouch #burn” (though I do admit, saying “lol” out loud–ignore the pun, please–is kind of weird)? I’d love to hear what you think. Where do I stand? It should be evident, but perhaps my wishy-washy-ness got in the way. I kind of like hashtags. English is a changing language, and unless you want it to end up like Latin people should embrace that. Well, maybe not load their speech with “#haveacoldtoday” and “#bigproject”, but at least not reject it entirely. It’s clever. It can be used in humor. Don’t crush #’s newfound glory.




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