The social media of choice for most people part of the ‘literary establishment’ is Facebook. It is a very simple reason why–it is inclusive. Facebook was made by an elitist Ivy league kid who wanted to help other educated elites have a way to connect only to each other.
MySpace, died because it was only a good social media tool for bands and comedians; everyone else decided Facebook was for them.
Facebook was more convenient than e-mails as you could keep up with your circle of friends. Writers at this point didn’t have to worry about E-Books and while the music world was turned on its head around 2004, the literary world kept going with business as usual.
That would changed when The Kindle came, then the iPad, Twitter, and YouTube etc. Now all artists of all walks of life are part of the digital age. Three Dimensional Books will be vinyl/CD’s in 5 to 10 years (I’m not saying that is a good thing, but I accept it is going to happen).
It will all be digital, YouTube videos will be more important than journals, and tweets will be more important than blurbs. Everything will also move very fast and people will want art that they can absorb faster.
A group that can really embrace this and return from being the redheaded step child of the artistic genres are poets. I believe poetry can have a renaissance if it is willing to get out of academia, Slam Circles, and get dirty in the digital world. A great place for poets to start would be getting active on Twitter.
I love twitter because it is no different to me than writing a really great line. Twitter rewards excellent word play and I also like that young people are on it and can be exposed to all different types of opinion and art.
Though, this statement will make a few eyes roll, Twitter is very much like a micro poetry slam–if you say something worthwhile you will be retweeted and ‘starred’. It is also a great way to reach readers, as I have had people buy my poetry book because they like my tweets.
That is the best thing about it, it is very meritocratic and democratic. Checks aside (the blue marks you see next to celebrities) everyone is equal, everyone can reach everyone. No one is on a pedestal, I believe this is a way for poets to become part of ‘regular people society again’. Poetry has become an art form outside of what regular people give a damn about it (yes hip hop is poetry, but I’m talking about the written word.)
The worst thing is poets have accepted this defeat, it’s like poets are living in France when Germany occupied it in during WWII with a mentality of “Well, we lost, so it goes, at least we have our academic journals and other poets will buy our books.’
A lot of poetry I read is just poets writing for other poets with no ambition to reach the average reader. Yes, there is ‘slam’ and it has its merits but let’s be real–a big portion of ‘slam poetry’ is just people reciting a dramatic monologue. If it can’t be read as poem on the page, it’s not ‘poetry’.
Poetry as the written word is a great form and it just has to be used correctly to connect with every day people. But it needs to engage topics the average person talks about, even lowly pop culture. This week, I saw more good lines and similes when people used the hashtag #mileyasssmallerthan, than I have in most recent poetry collections.
What is sad is most poets would be probably find this beneath them, give some speech about that is sexist, or demeaning, or some other PC crap that average people could care less about.
Bukowski, Byron, hell even Rilke would say to chill, loosen up, and live a little.
The poetry community is like the suit and tie wearing college freshmen who needs to go to a bar get drunk and get laid. Basically, it needs to get dirty, needs to have some fun, and to have conversations with ‘the locals’ not just people in the same class.
I think Twitter is a start and who knows maybe if enough poets embrace this form of social media, maybe average people will start buying poetry books again.