Twitter and poetry

This is a piece I wrote for the SA Writers’ Centre newsletter. I thought some Prakkypedia readers might enjoy it:

Twitter – the social media platform belittled as the broadcast tool of celebrities such as Shane Warne, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber – is so much more than inane short messages. And that includes being a hotspot for poetry.

With each tweet limited to 140 characters, it’s a challenge that can be a tempting and inspiring for many writers. When you’re tweeting, you’re doing what any poet does at readings, festivals and through print – sharing your work with the world.

Poetry and Twitter
Poetry and Twitter

You might say Twitter is an ideal publishing platform for poetry. Poets have been known to share a single line in one tweet which is a sample of a longer piece or work.

Some take the alternative approach by drip-feeding many lines, tweet by tweet. As with any social media tools, the account holder chooses how to use it and decides how much they’re willing to share.

You might have a Twitter account set up purely to read, share and critique other people’s work. Your approach might be to tweet a few lines of your poetry and then link back to your own website. You might have some work that is for “Twitter only” as a means to keep your mind sharp and interact with others and have fun. You could even share a photograph of your handwritten poetry on Twitter, to give it a different feel.

The thing to remember is this: Twitter is a community. Don’t approach it as a marketing tool whose only purpose is to send traffic to your website or to encourage people to buy your work  now. It’s a place where people relish a genuine conversation and expect you to be available over the long term. When you understand this about Twitter, you’ll discover the massive benefits to joining, both as a reader and as a writer.

Twitter works best when you find the accounts of most interest to you, and when you visit Twitter often and interact with others (that means at least several times a week). You might build your Twitter network into the best community you’ve ever subscribed to. So, how do you discover poetry on Twitter? There are several approaches.

You can search for and follow Twitter accounts that are based on poetry, beginning with for example Poetry Australia. There are more US-based poetry accounts including Poetry Daily, which aims to help “make poetry part of daily life, presenting a new poem each day from new books and journals”. There’s also Poetry Magazine and the Poetry Foundation.

There may be specific poets you would like to follow. Type their names into the Twitter search box and cross your fingers.  Of course, not every poet has a Twitter account, but if you use Twitter search you’ll discover if they are there.

If your favourite poet isn’t on Twitter but has a high profile, you may find there is a Twitter account set up to honour and share their work. You can also search and follow Twitter hashtags.

Funnily enough, the #poetry hashtag doesn’t reveal a swathe of good works.  More often, it’s used to promote poetry events including photos from live readings. Occasionally, you might find a gem.

Try searching for #micropoetry or #haiku instead. They appear to be more focused on sharing work.

Any questions? Of course, you can tweet me via @prakky 

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