by Colorado Review Associate Editor Lauren Gullion

Twitter turned 5 years old this past Saturday (March 19). In recognition of this marker, NPR ran a story covering the platform’s background as well as the role it’s played in recent political movements around the world. But does Twitter play a worthwhile role in the literary world?

Perhaps. The New York Times reported this weekend on the emergence of 140-character Twitter poetry, as well as fictional snippets emerging as, what the newspaper calls, “a contemporary version of the serialization that Dickens and other fiction writers once enjoyed.”  If you’re curious, follow this link for a sampling of Twitter poetry posted by the Times.

But Twitter, we must remember, is not just about tweeting; it’s about reading, too. In the above-mentioned NPR story, Twitter co-founder Isaac “Biz” Stone explains that he is now more a reader than a writer of tweets. “You don’t actually have to tweet,” he says, “to get value out of Twitter.” I agree. A Twitter feed can be a great way to receive reminders of upcoming contests, submission deadlines, and new stories and poems being published in your favorite journals by your favorite writers.

For me, Twitter also serves as a friendly reminder that I’m not alone; other writers (and editors) are out there. If you’re just curious but not quite ready to befriend the little blue bird, I highly recommend subscribing to Jane Friedman’s weekly blog on the Best Tweets for Writers. As mentioned in the NPR story, Twitter is indeed a bit like ice cream. And is a life without ice cream a life worth living? Well, probably. But a life with ice cream is a lot more fun.

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