“E-Poetry in Social Media” Coda: Alan Sondheim

Twitter Poetry by You

For the past 40 entries, I ♥ E-Poetry has been focused on poetry written using social media, and with the exception of a handful of works, the vast majority has been created with and for Twitter. In addition to Twitter fictions, three emergent genres have expanded the traditional scope of the poetic in this social network: bots, performance works, and netprovs. To explore abundant examples of each case, click on the links to tags above or visit the March and February 2013 archive (the entries begin on February 17).

I conclude this series by examining poetic works authored by you— that is, trends, memes, hashtags, and other ways in which Twitter prompts people (such as yourself) to write poetry or at least produce tweets that foreground the poetic function of language.

As a social network that values concision (with its 140 character limit), it already encourages compression that can lead to the poetic. This has encouraged many to write haiku, couplets, free verse, prose poetry, and other short kinds of traditional poetry. The folks at Twitter acknowledge this by announcing new line break functionality in their Web client with a haiku.


The haiku is so popular in Twitter, that you just need to visit the #haiku hashtag to discover more poetic creativity than could every be anthologized in print (while I wrote this sentence, 5 new haiku were tweeted). Line breaks are now starting to be used to create traditional and visual poetry and ascii art in Twitter.

Twitter’s hashtag functionality has been used for more focused creative prompts, leading to massive trends of artful language production. Some examples I’ve come across and enjoyed are: #lesserfilms, #fivewordtedtalks, Also worth a look are Twitter’s reports on 2012 Trends, 2011 Hot Topics, and 2010 Trends, which feature trends like: #idontunderstandwhy, and #threewordstoliveby. Follow the links to read a huge sampling of the most recent products of these language memes that spread in the imagination through this social network. For more deliberately poetic examples, read my entry on “@Tempspence and the Tempspence Poets,” and participate in the recently launched #spinepoetry, documented in this Tumblr site.

More importantly: pick a constraint, start writing, and make the title of this entry true.

“@Tempspence” & “#tempspencepoets” by Mark Marino, Rob Wittig, et. al.

“Reality: Being @SpencerPratt” by Mark Marino and Rob Wittig


“Occupy MLA” by Mark C. Marino and Rob Wittig

Occupy MLA is back!

Screen capture of “Occupy MLA” by Mark C. Marino and Rob Wittig. Twitter cover is a picture of an empty journal with a big, red "O" on it. Twitter profile picture writes "occupy MLA," followed by a lengthy description of the twitter account.
Open “Occupy MLA” by Mark C. Marino and Rob Wittig

But don’t be alarmed just yet, since this resurgence of the controversial netprov, takes the shape of a published archive (linked to in this entry’s title). This documentation is exemplary, including a 3-minute introductory video, a link to an artists’ statement at The Chronicle of Higher Education (with a fascinating comment thread), an indexed and color-coded archive of the tweets, and an Excel file with the raw data from the four Twitter accounts that form the heart of this work. With this resource, you can read most of this timely performance that blurs the lines between fiction and reality, satire and activism, and virtual and embodied spaces.

Read more“Occupy MLA” by Mark C. Marino and Rob Wittig

“@Darius_at_GDC” by Darius Kazemi

Screen Capture from the “@Darius_at_GDC” twitter account, created by Darius Kazemi. Text: "@tinysubversions isn't attending GDC 2013, so he created me to attend in his place. Tweet 1: GEE DEE CEEEEEEE Tweet 2: We are going to revolutionize the notgames. We're hiring passionate developers toZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz *snort* Tweet 3: It's been a struggle just to keep my eyes open."
Open “@Darius_at_GDC” by Darius Kazemi

This bot is a stand-in for Kazemi at the Game Developer’s Conference happening at the time of this posting in San Francisco, because he will not be able to attend for the first time in 10 years. So instead of pining away on Twitter as #GDC tweets flood his stream, he created a bot so his friends could have the pleasure of his company in their own streams, which as we know, is almost as good as his being there. If that were all this piece was, it would be little more than a Kazemi-themed Twitter equivalent of this:

Read more“@Darius_at_GDC” by Darius Kazemi

“@tonightiate” “@MassageMcLuhan” by Matt Schneider

These two bots generate short template based sentences and publish them on Twitter every 10 minutes. With them Schneider demonstrates some of the versatility of the same kind of device when applied to different topics.

“24-Hr. Micro-Elit Project” by Dene Grigar


“The River Dart” & “Babble Brook” by J.R. Carpenter

Screen capture from “The River Dart” & “Babble Brook” by J.R. Carpenter.  A twitter account with the picture of a river in the background and profile picture. Some of the postings read: “Hail on magnolia leaves. These and other improbably sounds.”, “All hail the cold rain”, “It can halt in the sun for longer than one might imagine”, “Sudden sun hail shower”.
Open “The River Dart” & “Babble Brook” by J.R. Carpenter

This poetic performance on Twitter is a series of observations focused on the Dart river and its environs in Devon, England. The earliest tweets on this account, which started on November 19, 2009, focused on the practicalities of walking along the river, and rapidly settled into a language based study of the river and its environs. The tweets exhibit a curious mixture of subjective and objective perceptions, writing from a very personal perspective without falling into Romanticism. It is more like Olson’s dictum that “ONE PERCEPTION MUST IMMEDIATELY AND DIRECTLY LEAD TO A FURTHER PERCEPTION,” but captured and delivered over time via Twitter.

Read more“The River Dart” & “Babble Brook” by J.R. Carpenter

“@crashtxt / exq=.s.te =n.c&de/s” by Jim Punk