Just The Ash

Interactive Art, Francisco Navas and David Stein, 2021

The singer and poet Leonard Cohen said, "Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash."

In considering its obsolescence, we realized that the telephone is like poetry — a precursor, nearly forgotten by today's average person.

From the first string telephone in the 17th century, phones have connected us, shrinking physical and emotional distances to help us maintain and build relationships. With Facebook, Whatsapp and Zoom etc and ad nauseum, the small handheld computers we now call phones have made the simple telephone all but obsolete. With our iPhones we have access to our entire social lives. We’re always, continuously connected. And yet, communities have never felt so disparate and individuals so isolated. To feel fill that gap we use our phones to connect to culture, too. Between Youtube and the various streaming services, listeners spend millions of collective hours listening to music on their phones.

And poetry? Well, can you name me your Top 10 Favorite poets like you can your most listened to artists on Spotify?

Our phone, lets listeners connect with the work of the greatest poets of various American traditions by letting them choose a feeling they want to connect with. Feeling rebellious? Listen to the work of Allen Ginsberg. Feeling grandeur? Connect with Nikki Giovanni's ego!

Before Kanye West, Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, we had Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou and Williams Carlos Williams. We're extremely lucky that recordings of reading their work exist and our phone can help listeners connect with themselves through our shared histories.

Just The Ash