How writing and design can respond to fast-moving times

We often think of writing and design as being a slow and reflective process. But in our quickly changing news landscape, there can be merit in reacting fast and loose, says Nick Asbury

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#realtime_notes no.1273 #poetry #poem #writing

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On 17 August 2017, I was in a pub near Euston station, killing some time before my train back north. News was breaking of a terrorist attack in Barcelona and I felt a vague urge to write something. After opening the Notes app on my iPhone and tapping away for a few minutes, I wrote this:

In London / drinking alone / with time to kill / thinking (not aloud) / about a van that has plowed / (always plowed) / into the happy crowd / and the man / now out of the van / on the run in Barcelona / some loner / with time to kill

I took a screengrab and posted it to Instagram, explaining it was a rough and probably short-lived experiment in writing poems in rapid response to current events.

Two years later, I’ve posted 1,300 poems at a rate of at least one a day, and it has become a ritualistic part of my creative life, to the point where it’s hard to imagine not doing it. Along the way, I’ve thought a lot about how writing and design can respond to fast-moving times.