Twitter: new literary form?

Twitter - new literary form

I’m taking a shot at Twitter. As in, I’m giving it a try, not aiming criticism. Certainly it’s an easy enough target for criticism or parody.

In an essay called Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, novelist and non-fiction writer David Shields writes about the cultural shift towards art (including writing) that is less about exclusive individual ‘ownership’ and more about the mashing together of interesting bits. While I’m not sure I buy the idea that more traditionally cohesive works are entirely on the way out, there is a lot of truth in Shields’ contention. A certain technological / cultural imperative is pushing music, visual art and writing toward a populist inclusivity where everyone can “sample” and recreate works from the bits floating about in their world.

At one point, Shields writes “We all need to begin figuring out how to tell a story for the cell phone.” I wonder when he wrote that? It’s published in the Spring 2009 edition The Normal School but, already, it seems to be answered. Twitter is, essentially, stories for the cell phone.

People are discovering the creativity that can be captured in Twitter’s 140 characters. Creative Non-Fiction Magazine has a Twitter composition contest going. Here are a few of the more interesting tweets:

RT @JDeurbrouck #cnftweet All my life her crochet hook danced the yarn. Now she sits beside me, arthritic hands in her lap. “Hold it like a pen,” she says.

RT @kel_e_evans #cnftweet The neighborhood dogs, roaming the farmland, redefine neglect as wild autonomy. Dirt is just another traveling coat.

Of course, you can follow Creative Non-Fiction magazine itself on Twitter; its ID is cnfonline.

In my own tweets, I will assume that no one needs the latest account of my journey to go in search of ripe-but-not-too-ripe bananas at the corner store. Unless, I suppose, that journey seems to say something interesting about our society. Rather, I will aim for simply announcements of things that you might find interesting on this site and others, and some of the 140 character wordplay that might precede a full-blown poem or essay.

That’s the intent, anyway. We shall see.

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