How the Astro Poets Lit Up the Internet

Alex Dimitrov and Dorothea Lasky, whose Twitter feed of astrological musings launched in 2016.

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. But 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.”

“If I write a series, it’s between 12 and 14 lines, which is a sonnet, basically,” Ms. Lasky said.

“Being poets, we have skills in invoking the invisible,” continued Ms. Lasky, whose fifth book, “Milk,” will be published by Wave Books this year. “And I think one of the big misconceptions about poetry is that poems have to mean something. A poem has an infinite set of meanings. Anybody’s star chart is like that too.”

“There is a long history connecting poets and the occult,” said Mr. Dimitrov, whose latest book, “Together and By Ourselves,” came out from Copper Canyon Press in April 2017. “I’ve definitely always been interested in conjuring.”

Ms. Lasky said that she first became interested in astrology as a child, poring over the reclusive poet Linda Goodman’s best-selling 1980s books on the subject. “I devoured Linda Goodman’s ‘Star Signs,’ ” she said. “I kept the book by my bed all the time and my lamp burned a hole in the book. I think as an adult I got into astrology by just being obsessed with people to date. It felt like knowing astrology gave me a knowledge about people that they may not even have about themselves, and I was captivated by that.” Ms. Lasky said that she hopes the Astro Poets book will be a modern update of Goodman’s work. “We want it to be more intersectional and less problematic about gender,” she said. “Her book is more about men and women interacting and we want to make ours less binary.”

Mr. Dimitrov, whose parents are not only both Sagittarians, like himself, but share a birthday, gave him a pendant of the Sagittarius archer symbol when he was young. “I was super introverted, I was an only child,” he said. “So for me astrology was kind of like Greek mythology, this other world where I already had an identity; I could participate in it. There were no definite rules, much like poetry.”

The instant identity that comes along with simply knowing where one’s birthday falls on the zodiac may hold some clue to the Astro Poets phenomenon, and the broader rise in popularity of astrology among millennial readers. Noah Eaker, the book editor who signed Ms. Lasky and Mr. Dimitrov, told me that he had been searching for some time “to find the right authors for an astrological guide made for 21st century life.”

Astrology is not a science. It is not necessarily conclusive. And yet, Ms. Lasky said, knowing your chart can provide a kind of interpretive map with which to solve problems or understand larger forces at work on your life. “It’s not just about your sun sign,” she said. “It’s all like a fingerprint, molding together. Your moon sign and rising sign all form part of the blueprint of the house. But there is no fate weaving the blanket of our lives. What you do with the house is up to you.”

In Other News

© 2020 US News. All Rights Reserved.