The poet Emma Lazarus may not have envisioned Twitter when she wrote the sonnet that graces the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor but it is that sonnet, The New Colossus, written in 1883, that has inspired Poets House – celebrating its 25th anniversary this year – to collaborate with the National Park Service – celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty -- on a project to create a poem comprised of tweets.
Beginning October 4th, anyone with a Twitter account who is a Poets House follower (@PoetsHouse) can tweet a single line of poetry answering the question “what does the Statue of Liberty mean to you?” Each day, Poets House will tweet a “writing prompt” such as an idea, keyword or description to help followers along and guide them in their writing process. Followers should tweet back their poetic response with the hashtag “#statuepoem.”
Poets House will collect the lines of poetry and, during the course of the subsequent two weeks, will create from them a new sonnet inspired by the statue. The new poem will be published on both the National Park Service and Poets House websites and links will be both tweeted and posted on Facebook. Poets House’s Twitter address is @poetshouse. The Statue of Liberty’s Twitter address is @StatueLibrtyNPS. More information will also be available at each of the organizations’ Facebook pages and their websites.
Emma Lazarus’s poem reads as follows:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
— Emma Lazarus, 1883