hashtag poetry# review

Published by Burning Eye Books, Hashtag Poetry# is a collection of dissected tweets arranged into poems by Clive Birnie. The poems go through a variety of structural and aesthetic shifts, which I found very interesting. There is a short explanation of Birnie’s methods and reasons for these changes at the end of the book, which I absolutely adored. I would have loved to have even more of Birnie’s thoughts, but I imagine that many of these are, appropriately, voiced on his twitter page, which I will definitely check out.

The poems often made succinct, pointed observations of society and politics. Given their brevity, I was (on the whole) very impressed by this – I cannot imagine how many twitter posts he must have trawled through in order to find the perfect phrases and words. Also, many of them were very funny. I don’t often find poetry amusing, because I am way too focused on understanding the minutiae of structure and word-choice, but I did actually laugh out loud at a couple of these. They were just so…Internet! I’m very interested in the way that Internet vernacular works, and I think this particular form of writing was used to great effect in the poems.

29324145.jpgSome of the later poems also used various icons from twitter and instagram, such as the re-tweet button and the like button. I absolutely loved these – in some poems they felt like little rests or beats, which created a wonderful new rhythm. More experimentation with these icons would have been fascinating – however, perhaps that’s a subject for a later collection of poetry. (I certainly hope so!)

I did have a couple of reservations, however. Some of the poems felt a bit too slapdash, if that makes sense. I know that they very literally were thrown together, but some of them felt a bit too random for my liking. A couple of these would have been fine, because it could have made an interesting point about the verbosity and inevitable incomprehension of the Internet. However, there were a few too many of these for my taste. This is also a purely aesthetic reflection, but I also hated the dots. They distracted me and made my eyes go a bit funny. Again, though, that is a completely personal problem.

On the whole, I greatly enjoyed this collection of twitter poetry. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the beginning of a whole new form of poetry, in which technology takes centre stage, and allows for complete innovation. I will certainly be looking out for more literature like this.

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