Monday, 8 April 2013

Twitterature - Seriously

Readers of this blog might remember a post about an anthology titled Time Lines.  It was the editor of the book, James Knight (@badbadpoet) who had sent me the book because of my own activity on Twitter. One of the contributors to that book, who writes under the name Aksania Xenogrette (@gadgetgreen) also wrote to me and, after an exchange of messages,we decided to open a conversation about the possibilities and limitations of Twitter. Aksania is now launching a blog specifically for this purpose.

In order to start the discussion I posted the following possible questions to Aksania who forwarded them to James:

What is the range of Twitter activity? 
What are the characteristics of Twitter as a form of communication?
(two obvious answers are set brevity and ephemerality but there will be more) 
What has Twitter brought to the literature table? 
What existing forms of literary writing work / might work in Twitter?
(In terms of set verse forms there is the haiku, the Clerihew, the the limerick the distich, the rhyming couplet, the four stress quatrain; in terms of prose forms the proverb, the idiom, the dictionary or encyclopedia entry, the Kafkaian anecdote, the philosophical proposition or enigma, the one-line joke, the headline, the declaration, the slogan, the serialised story (see J Egan); in terms of drama: stichomythia), dialogic exchange, an actual dialogue between different Tweeters. There will be others of course.
How  are / might the use of these forms be modified on Twitter? 
How do / would devices like intertextuality, mash-up, quotation, visual or musical reference work on Twitter? 
How are serial tweets best presented in say a book or webpage format? What do they lose by being brought together? How to prevent that loss?

James has written his first blog on the issue. The idea is to feature Twitter length fragments of discussion on Twitter itself. That will partly be done by linking to the blog, but, in the spirit of Twitter, partly by responding on Twitter itself in whatever manner suits us or the subject. This is my own first step.


There is now a hashtag #twitterature. Here are a few early thoughts from me on Twitter itself, chiefly regarding question 1.

  1. There's no time limit on this. First question was about the range of twitterwork. Many remain. The advert, the invite, the cry.
  2. This isn't a closed conversation of course so anyone can join in under the hashtag. A hashtag is a rash tag.
  3. So the hashtag and more range: the query, the hook, the cute, the homily, the joke, the anecdote, the maxim, the proverb...
  4. Q1 What is the range of Twitter activity? - The tangent, the deflection, a brief dérèglement de tous les sens, or some senses
  5. Q1 What is the range of Twitter activity? - All one thinks / Complete with links - and then again...
  6. Q1 What is the range of Twitter activity? - Chat, location, notes from hell / pennies down a long long well...
  7. Q1 What is the range of Twitter activity? - If you seek its monument look about you. It's like Auden's Night Mail. The jug gently shakes.


Cathy Dreyer said...


George S said...

Do join in, Cathy. See under hashtag #twitterature also anything from yesterday on from any of the three of us. It would be nice to have an open conversation on it.

Mina Polen said...

I found fascinating the literary forms developing in twitter, but also, it interests me how writers use twitter. I have found that many of us use it as a writing platform, like a living digital notebook. Some months ago I tweeted a question asking readers/writers to favorite my tweet if they were using twitter as a sort of notebook and were developing those ideas further somewhere else. I can´t find the original tweet, but the answers made me think that it would be interesting to write a proper questionnaire to explore the uses of twitter. I think that what we see is only the tip of the iceberg and there are loads of interesting stuff going on that are worth exploring.