There have been a few good examples of fiction writers using Twitter to give us stories. Teju Cole’s “Hafiz” remains my favorite of them all, but others (like the ones Isaac Fitzgerald wrote about at BuzzFeed Books) have shown that social media can benefit writers in ways other than promoting their latest story or upcoming reading.
Melissa Broder, whose latest collection of poems, Scarecrone, is out today via Publishing Genius, also makes creative use of her Twitter account. But Broder — unlike Cole, who said his work with the various people who tweeted his story was planned out in advance, or Jennifer Egan, whose “Black Box” was published in the New Yorker after she tweeted parts of the story from the magazine’s Twitter account — 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 weird and darkly whimsical tweets take tidbits from popular culture and chop and screw them down to 140 characters. Like many of us, Broder seems to tweet whatever pops into her head at that very second; unlike many of us, most of what she tweets is brilliant.
Broder’s tweets reference hip hop and new-age-speak, often spelling words like they’re the title of a Prince song. First they get you chuckling, but then they often reveal some deeper insight. Her poetry isn’t much different — she just allows it more breathing room. Yet it’s noticeable how much, her third book, Broder’s poetry has gotten stronger on a line-by-line basis. Take the opening of “Judgement”:
When the shaman comes to town I try to hump the shaman I try to hump angels I cannot uncouth sublime beings
Any one of those lines could be a Broder tweet, and any tweet could be part of a poem; that’s ultimately what makes this poet one of two people I consistently tell people they must follow on Twitter. (The other is Teju Cole. Go figure.) Our ever-changing social media feeds are full of links, trolls, bad news, and other tidbits we could do without. But when you follow Melissa Broder, every once in a while you get something like this:
And for a few seconds, everything feels a little bit better.