By Anastasia Katsoupa,
I didn’t know that Patti Smith had an Instagram account until my friend, Lorina, pointed it out to me. This is the Patti Smith of Because the night and People have the power. I knew her through her music but the Patti of my imagination could not possibly have had an Instagram account. How old was she anyways?
“She’s amazing”, Lorina assured me, pulling up one of her posts. I was surprised to see poetry in the caption, but of course, this was also the Patti Smith of Devotion. I went through the account, looking at the countless posts of small poetic observations each beginning with the phrase “this is.”
In one post, dated September 16, alongside images of a book and tea, a pigeon, and some of her writing, Patti wrote:
a late afternoon break.
Tea and literature-a
writer from Subotica.
A book called Skylark.
The pigeons partake of
the last of my crackers,
school children named
Lucy and Ruby stop to
say hello. Fall is indeed
in the air. I write a few
lines then saunter home.
What intrigued me most about this form of poetry was the simplicity of it. Poetry has always intimidated me. I viewed it as a hostile form, used by people that approached the world in abstractions, something that I did not see in myself. But these poems were different. They were approachable and honest. Most important, they were straightforward in a way that made me connect to them.
At the time of discovering Patti’s Instagram, I was in the process of moving countries, a scary thing to do on a good day. During a pandemic? I was terrified. I wanted something to ground me and to give me focus. For fear of going completely crazy, in the airplane, from panic over Covid, I decided to record everything on my journey in the style of Instagram poetry a-la Patti Smith.
‘Where are you travelling?’
asks the lady standing too close
‘Athens’ I tell her,
she takes my ticket, pulls her head back
‘Athina? Are you sure we fly there?’
‘I sure hope so’
She shakes her head
She was not joking. Only two days before flying, an article was posted that claimed Canadians would be removed from the EU’s safe-to-fly list. That sent me spinning down the Internet rabbit hole in search of whether my flight would be impacted. The date of my flight, I still was not sure what would happen. My anxiety increased, and with it, my desire for Patti’s poetry style did as well.
I am too many hours early
worry over extra checks, more precautions.
Got through fast, happy about that
Sweating in my mask
I’ll have a face rash, probably.
So, I survived the checks but what about the plane? Would I have space? How many people would be on board? Would someone be seated next to me? Could I avoid them coughing on me? Should I risk eating even though I would need to remove my mask to do so? The list of things to worry about increased.
with new technology
windows that dim automatically
Crave and HBO available on demand
There are no specialty meals and no substitutions
But there are hygiene packets
With antiseptic wipes.
Thankfully, I had a whole row to myself, with enough space to lie down and pretend I was at home in bed. There was no one seated near me and I settled in for the long flight.
the stewardess says:
‘wait to eat until we tell you
everyone has food in front of them’
‘don’t take your mask off
if it slips in your sleep
we will wake you up’
I wouldn’t want to remove it anyways
It’s kind of comforting now,
like a heating pad for my face
It’s really cold in here.
And then, half a day later, I arrived. Poetry had proved a worthy companion to my anxieties. It had also been fun to record the world around me in small fragments. Maybe this was something I could continue doing, even when things did not seem so scary.
cigarette smoke in the air
and the lingering