How the Astro Poets Lit Up the Internet
The universe is a swirling cosmic cocktail of galaxies made up of specks of dust, and Alex Dimitrov and Dorothea Lasky are alive and writing poetry in it. The two poets, who are also best friends and creative collaborators, are always thinking about the stars. The first thing the pair ever talked about, when they met in a Brooklyn loft in 2010, while drinking cheap champagne at an after-party for a poetry reading, was the movement of the constellations. “Alex walked up to me and told me he was a Sagittarius,” said Ms. Lasky, 39. “And I knew, it was going to work. When a Sagittarius spots an Aries across a room, there’s an immediate connection.”
“I used to tell everyone that Aries and Sagittarius are the strongest astrological match,” said Mr. Dimitrov, 33. The poets were sitting across from me in a velvet banquette at the dark Temple Bar in the NoLIta neighborhood of Manhattan. Mr. Dimitrov cut a sleek profile, wearing a black leather jacket and a nonchalant smudge of kohl eyeliner. Ms. Lasky wore piles of jewelry on every exposed surface of her body, and looked like a modern incarnation of the elegant mystic Madame Blavatsky. Together, under the light of the dim Edison bulbs, they looked like members of a long-lost 1970s prog-rock band. “Aries women just love me,” Mr. Dimitrov went on. “I wish I could get married to an Aries woman, but alas, I like men. So this is the next best thing. I guess we are in a ‘spiritual marriage.’ I always refer to our Twitter as a marriage.”
The Twitter account he speaks of is Astro Poets, a feed of whimsical astrological musings that the two launched together in late November 2016 (their account is a Sagittarian) and that has grown exponentially in popularity since. The account now boasts more than 232,000 followers — fans include the pop artists Lorde and Michelle Branch and the actor/writer Lena Dunham — and a coveted book deal with Macmillan’s Flatiron Books. (The book will be published in 2019.) The two recently hosted a sold-out poetry reading for 500 fans in the New York Public Library’s Celeste Bartos Forum. The beige auditorium was sardined with admirers — average age somewhere between 18 and 25, many with unicorn-hued, asymmetrical haircuts — who came for a glimpse of their horoscope gurus.
The Astro Poets idea was born over text message, late at night. Ms. Lasky and Mr. Dimitrov, who are both published poets (Ms. Lasky with four books, Mr. Dimitrov two), were up into the wee hours in November of 2016 chatting about their favorite subjects: romance and astrology. Mr. Dimitrov had double-booked dates with two men, and he was waffling back and forth about which plans to cancel. He turned to a Twitter poll, and then directly to Ms. Lasky, for cosmic advice. “I was choosing between a Taurus and a Virgo,” he said.
“What’s funny is, I didn’t go on either date. B ut we did get the idea for the Twitter out of it,” “Mr. Dimitrov said. “Every time we got dinner or drinks, we’d be talking about astrology the whole time. And we were like, let’s take this to Twitter and see if people care.”
As it turned out, people did care. The first tweet the Astro Poets posted was “We’ve been born on this truest evening, November 26, 2016 in New York City. A Sagittarius babe we are & we love our planet & all the signs.” Within three days, the account had amassed more than 4,000 followers.
The mission of Astro Poets was simple: Use Twitter to write tiny poems about the star signs. Because Mr. Dimitrov and Ms. Lasky are creatures of the internet, they are as well-versed in pop culture as they are in literary history. As a result, the account has a very specific, charming tone, one that unites zeitgeisty interests with ancient knowledge about the solar system. A typical tweet will list the star signs as emoji, or punctuation marks. Early on, the pair developed the idea of “the series,” a quick list of 12 tweets describing all of the signs in terms of a single conceit. They described the signs in terms of Britney Spears songs, Virginia Woolf novels, adverbs and passive-aggressive email signoffs.
“I approach each series we do thinking about structure, really,” Mr. Dimitrov said. “I like the fact that there are 12 signs. I like the fact that there are the four elements. If you think about it, those are poetic constraints.”