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This poetic mashup Twitter bot places Walt Whitman in conversation with contemporary people expressing their frustrations in social networks. To be precise, he repurposes Darius Kazemi’s “Latour Swag” code to remix two different Twitter sources: @TweetsOfGrass and original tweets with the #fml hashtag.
This account sends tweet-sized portions of Whitman’s 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass from beginning to end, over and over. The tweets are made several times per day on an irregular schedule (occasionally missing a day), which along with the careful coherence of each tweet (Whitman’s long lines don’t fit in Twitter’s 140 character constraint) suggests that this is a human-powered endeavor, not a bot.
The Twitter #fml (an abbreviation for “Fuck My Life”) trend is huge, inspiring thousands to post short snippets of frustration every hour.
Part of the appeal of the trend is that to craft a short phrase that effectively captures an FML moment is an art in and of itself. This is a compelling constraint that leads people to focus on the poetic function of language to produce what are essentially monostich poems.
It is therefore entirely appropriate to remix these tweets with lines by a poet who “contained multitudes” and wrote “In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barleycorn less, / And the good or bad I say of myself I say of them” in Song of Myself. The results are surprisingly lyrical and gently uplifting, as the self-deprecating humor of the tweets combine with Whitman’s positivity, earthiness, and musicality.
Is Whitman a cure for the #FML attitude?
Featured in Genre: Bot