4: Twitter Poetry

For my genre profile project, I decided to focus on the contemporary craze of Twitter poetry. Twitter poetry is a subgenre of digital poetry (much like what Molly Aiudi talks about in her post about hypertext poetry) as well as a subgenre of a rising form of writing known as Twitterature. Twitter poetry focuses on the brevity of the moment due to being restricted to a character limit and, by being published on social media, is able to be embraced by a larger audience.

The most interesting thing that I found so far in regards to Twitter poetry is the character limit; whether the posts were from when Twitter had a 140-character limit or if they are currently being written with the 280-character limit in mind, each of the poems (and poetry accounts) that I’ve looked at use the limit to their advantage. Being forced to write under a constraint like this forces the poet to remove common, filler language.

Another thing that I found interesting in regard to the form of Twitter poetry is the ‘audience’. In Among the Audience, Andrea Lunsford and Lisa Ede mention that even before social media sites like Twitter “scholars in the field of rhetoric and writing argues that the term ‘audience’ may have outlived its usefulness” (5). Later on in the article, however, they mention how that’s actually quite the opposite and that the term audience is actually shifting. Some users of Twitter have actually decided that the platform is the perfect place to flex their creative muscles and that there are numerous contests from literary magazines and publishers (27-28).

As for challenges with this genre, there’s only been one I’ve noticed. Since Twitter poetry is a rather new form of poetry, there are not many sources dedicated to content and formal characteristics. It’s a very freeform genre that’s content is dictated by the account posting it (there are accounts that post for literary journals, famous poets like @EE_Cummings, and users that post their own, original work). As for the formal characteristics, the only one I could find is the character limit mentioned above. Twitter poets, however, do borrow from other forms, writing in haikus and sonnets as well.

I’m currently a part of an independent writing group with Dr. Karla Kelsey focused on further developing our use of language and composition of poetry in order to write towards an end goal (either having poems to send out to literary magazines or to submit to graduate programs). In previous poetry classes, we’ve looked at the formal characteristics and content of traditional  forms (like the sonnet and haiku). After doing this genre profile, however, it would be an interesting writing exercise to write a poem under the 280-character limit and see how it affects my word choice and language.

Word Count: 465

Works Cited

Lunsford, Andrea A., Ede, Lisa. “Among the Audience”: On Audience in an Age of New Literacies. n.d.