Over the past year, Twitter has entered a new phase of cultural relevance. Hashtag campaigns are enacting real change, trolling has become a serious social issue, and a “good” tweet involves a lot more than a quippy one-liner. Consider Melissa Broder, Twitter’s rising star, who uses the platform as an outlet to curate existential, hilarious, dark, and punchy poems for her 17,000 followers. Credited with turning tweets into comic poetry, Broder (@melissabroder) takes the medium so seriously, she even has her own Twitter editor.
“I have a Canadian Twitter editor named Tyler Crawford (a musician and my best internet friend),” Broder explained in a recent interview with Splitsider. “Once a week I send him tweets and he rates them as ‘A game’ or ‘v good’ or ‘seems ok.’ I only use the ‘A game’ tweets, with an occasional ‘v good’ tweet thrown in.”
Broder, the assistant director of publicity at Penguin Random House and a poet by trade, has had her work published in esteemed academic journals like The Iowa Review and PEN America. (Read “Supper,” “Gold Lipstick and the End of Summer,” and “Hope This Helps.“) She’s also put out three poetry collections. But it’s her unique approach to Twitter that’s earned her such widespread recognition. Here’s a sample of some of her tweets:
in a complicated relationship w being alive
— Melissa Broder (@melissabroder) August 22, 2014
universe: all u need 2 be happy is write poems me: thx can i also have beauty, attention, dopamine, adrenaline, false power & eternal youth
— Melissa Broder (@melissabroder) July 13, 2014
i’m 30% witch and 70% stealing splenda packets
— Melissa Broder (@melissabroder) July 1, 2014
inner peace: hey me: one sec
— Melissa Broder (@melissabroder) April 18, 2014
Of her process, Broder explains that, “35 percent of my tweets are planned [with my editor] and 65 percent are impulse. It’s a personal cycle of boundaries and insurrections.” Amazingly, she still shares some of the same social media insecurities with the rest of us. “One night I’ll go on a tweet binge, one tweet over the line. This makes me feel insecure. I begin to crave that illusion of control. So I return to the approved tweets.”
Jason Diamond at Flavorwire describes her tweet-style best by saying she “uses Twitter more like a laboratory for future poems or poems in progress. In this way, she represents a different method for writers to introduce potential readers to their work through social media.”
Broder’s Twitter feed certainly helps build a lasting, supportive audience. And that’s important when we’re talking about poetry, since not a whole lot of people really know poetry exists outside of Sylvia Plath and Walt Whitman (thanks, Breaking Bad!).
Broder’s tweets are a reminder that poetry can be funny, twisted, relevant and new. And yes, it can also be incredibly entertaining and accessible, especially when it’s thrown at you in little snippets of awesome.