This cleverly conceptualized poem engages the social media meme as an canvas, cultural construct, and writing constraint. Using a meme generating service to write the texts on the memes and publish them as images, arranging them in the page. As co-author of the webcomic The World According to Geek, Valle Javier could’ve easily arranged the images as panels on a horizontal comic strip, but instead chose to do so vertically. This reinforces a poetic reading of this work as a whole, using each meme as a unit of meaning that is part of a textual flow.
This genre of meme offers two constraints that often work together: a bipartitie language structure and each meme’s conventions. With the exception of the “My Parents Are Dead” meme, in which the language is arranged in speech bubbles, all the memes have captions on the top and bottom of the image. In many cases, the content of each caption is constrained by the meme itself, i.e. asking a question, starting a sentence with “Please tell me” (as seen above), rhyming with the original phrase, or offering a specific line (“It’s a trap!”), and more. Here is a complete list of the memes used, in order of appearance, with links to their entries in the Internet Meme Database:
Does anyone else see a kind of poem in the list above? Were the meme titles part of the logic behind choosing specific memes?
Whether that is the case or not, these memes tend to circulate individually, so to repurpose them as a writing constraint and combine them to produce a coherent poem is no small feat. As you read the poem, consider how the two part structure of each meme could be read as a couplet, and that the spatial arrangement (see the clip above) creates a second couplet between the bottom of one and the top of the next, which allows for multiple readings. Consider also the role of the meme in the thematic engagement with memory and forgetfulness that shapes this poem.
These words aren’t written on static images: they’re written on social media objects that have behaviors of their own and circulate as powerfully as a catchy line of verse echoes in our collective memory.