Friday, May 10, 2024

Friday Writings #126: Textu


 Greetings, dear Word Weavers –

Do you all love it as much as I do when you find a form that’s new to you?

I’m currently excited about textu, a form perhaps invented and certainly publicised by Palestinian-American poet Fady Joudah, who has a whole book of them, titled simply Textu. (Available on Amazon, where you can read a sample first if you’re not sure you want to buy it.) The only rule of a textu is that it must consist of exactly 160 characters, including title and spaces – the same as a text message.

[Autocorrect just rendered that as ‘160 chatracters.’ Not exactly wrong!]


OK, messages between iPhones are not limited to 160 characters, and on other phones messages the go over this number are now sent as two consecutive messages; but the 160 limit is still described as ‘traditional.’ (How can anything so recent as mobile phones – or cell phones, if that’s your word – have a tradition??? Ah, perhaps I'm showing my great age! Never mind, 160 it is.)

I’ve been having a play with textu, and find they need no other rules. That one constraint is enough to force some very interesting and satisfying results.

I’m allowed to post one of Fady Joudah’s for purposes of study. I like this one:

Travelling Light

Distance dissolves as distance
place as place

In you I’m near & far
& I in me is what you are

but near myself I’m not
myself so just how far

Sometimes he has written a poem in two parts (two verses) totalling two lots of 160 characters. A few pieces are several verses long. I am reminded of Samuel Peralta, whom some of you know. Back when many of us were writing poetweets of no more than 140 characters, Sam sometimes posted whole poems as successive tweets. 

I originally thought I invented tweetpoems, as I called my first efforts, only to discover soon afterwards that other people had the same idea and someone had coined the even better name. That’s why I’m not sure whether to give Fady Joudah full credit for inventing textu: he might not be the only one. I don’t know that he claims to have invented the form or the name, anyway, though I imagine he probably arrived at it for himself.

It’s an excellent name, reminiscent of that other very short form, haiku. Also, 'textU' is the name for Android’s private messaging service. I like the idea of a poem being a private personal message to the individual reader!

So the optional prompt for this week is to write a poem – or, if you prefer, a very short piece of prose – as a textu of exactly 160 characters including title and spaces. You may choose to give us several in the one post, either as verses (or paragraphs) of one piece, or as separate pieces. If you do give us more than one, please include them all in one post and make sure the whole doesn’t exceed our 369-word limit.

The usual guidelines: 

One post per person; link to it in the Mister Linky box below. [Autocorrect gave me ‘Mister Kinky’ – yes, truly. I was tempted to leave it, just for fun!]

Word limit 369, excluding title and notes.

We accept poetry or prose, new or old, on prompt or off.

Please, when possible, read others’ posts and leave encouraging comments.

Most importantly, have fun!

P.S. I'm participating in a poetry slam this Saturday afternoon, so please excuse me if I don't get around the traps to read your textu (or other writings) straight away – I'll either be rehearsing or performing.

Next week, our inspirational Magaly will inspire us by inviting us to write poetry or prose which includes the phrase “all I want is”.


  1. Wondering, as I begin to have fun with this ... is it pronounced
    Text - U or Text - ooh as in haiku? Cheers all.

    1. I don't know the answer to that. I've been thinking of the verse form as like haiku; possibly the Android messaging thing is pronounced Text-You. (I'm an Apple-Mac girl myself.)

  2. This was a fun prompt, if a bit more difficult than word counting!

  3. Just sayin' ~~~~ this was the most difficult form I have ever attempted!!!!! Thank you for making my brain work overtime, triple shifts.


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