I often feel that I have to defend Twitter to those around me, and I’m sick of it. In these conversations, people usually talk about ‘real writing,’ ‘real music,’ etc. This is a conversation I am overwhelmingly tired of, and often tune out and let the conversation run it’s course and expire. The one thing that bothers me is this; how can people so quickly cast off something with so much creative potential?
The funniest part of this is usually looking at that persons Facebook, which they don’t seem to equate as the same thing, and look at all the memes they share or post. A lot of these memes are from twitter, reposted onto tumblr, and then shared by their high school friend they never talk to anymore. They like what twitter can do, so why not just make an account and join in?
Twitter is like a sort of digital notebook, Didion saw the notebook as a way of remembering and writing how she felt at the time, and Linda Gregg talked about observing and writing down things that aren’t remarkable, until you only notice things that shape your poetry/writing.
“the art of finding in poetry is the art of marrying the sacred to the world, the invisible to the human.”
Twitter is able to do both of these at the same time, and within a larger community, so you are in effect creating and finding your poetic voice, while at the same time projecting it to the world.
In doing so, the poet is able to observe the outside world, make notes/comments about it in the form of tweets, and in the act of giving it the constraint of the tweet, create something poetic. In writing twitter poetry, the writers themselves have to be aware of the world around them, both digital and not, as to allow for this process to happen. In reacting to other twitter users and the outside world at the same time, the poems take on this fractal, absurdist quality. They treat ironic things sincerely, and the sincere things even more sincerely.
The way people talk to and interact with each other is a kind of poetry in itself. When people retweet, respond, favorite, and hashtag, they are speaking and interacting within a poetic language. Twitter also has it’s own poetic meter; 140 characters per tweet. This constraint reminds me of a haiku. In having this language and form, twitter is able to foster a creativity which is uniquely it’s own.
Finding the poetry within you; the sources of the poem, not as topic but as the vital force that fuel the craft of your poetry. Then find the images and concrete details that best express the sources. These are the things that creative twitter is able to do in it’s communicable way. Twitter is sort of the training wheels for the modern poet, in a sense, as they are able to see in ‘real time’ the posts that people respond to the most.
I feel like twitter and blog websites (tumblr, blogger, etc) are a way that people tie themselves to the physical world, in nothing what they observe and allow onto their pages. So tweets, although appearing to be pure absurdism at times, are juxtaposed with the observed, the experienced, and are able to create interesting collages of images that explore a whole range of emotions.
And one of these emotions, which is often ignored in the literary world, as well as the art world in general, is humor. When people approach work that is funny, it is quickly and often dismissed as amateurish, shallow, meaningless, or all of the above. But what twitter is proving over and over is that this is not the case. Just look at Steve Roggenbuck and Boost House. This is but one example of the power of humor in poetry, and in art. We are invited into the work through comedy, which breaks down our sensibilities, leaving us vulnerable to feel true feelings and emotions.
It would be insane to talk about twitter poetry without talking about @Horse_ebooks. As Robinson Meyer wrote in her article for The Atlantic, ‘@Horse_Ebooks Is the Most Successful Piece of Cyber Fiction, Ever.’ This twitter, which was later found to be ran by two human beings, showed just how influential and creative twitter could be.
The tweets generated by @Horse_ebooks, at time complete nonsense, at times are incredibly poetic. The twitter account was able to juxtapose images and text from the internet, randomized the content it collected, and posted this collage as a single artifact. This is a poetic form; this is surrealism, cubism, absurdism, and any other ism you want to add to the list. On creative inspiration alone, it would be hard to argue that these tweets aren’t instead a magnum opus of digital poetry.
So what twitter is able to accomplish is pure collaborative art, which happens loosely over a whole range of conversations and contexts at the same time. Tweets bleed into each other, people have simultaneous conversations about different topics, people retweet and add their own hashtags to these topics, which results in responses to these hashtags. Ultimately, Twitter is a place which is always creative and always creating. The more people use twitter, the more open to creativity they are. The poetic of twitter is both communicative and creative, and if people allowed themselves to take part in this community, they could surprise themselves.
It was Walter Benjamin who talked about the restorative power that comes from the recreation of art through technology. He argued that, in the reproduction of art, the art itself has been reborn, and takes on a new meaning during this process. The art ceases to have a ‘spiritual’ meaning, and instead takes on an ‘exhibitionist’ meaning. So the art in question looses it’s old ties to the world it used to be involved in, and is instead thrusted into the new and exciting.
In this instance, the recreation of poetry through the means of twitter takes away the old stereotypes and cliches that became part of poetry, and instead gives it a whole new life and meaning; one of entertainment and enjoyment of the written word all over again. Twitter feels like on of the next logical steps of poetry.