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Friday, August 15th, 2014

Comedy and Poetry Intersect in @MelissaBroder's Tweets

attachment_1Melissa Broder (@MelissaBroder) is a poet living in LA. She is the author of three poetry collections, Scarecrone, Meat Heart, and When You Say One Thing But Meet Your Mother, and her work has been published in a variety of blogs and magazines. Outside of her poetry, Broder is very active on Twitter, and her feed is dark, existential, and very funny all at once. I recently got Broder to expand on three of her favorite tweets, and she talked to me about her tweet editor, her visit with a shaman, and being teen girls' hero.

Broder: I like this tweet, because other people liked it and when other people like my stuff it gives me a false sense of wholeness. I tweeted this impulsively, from the heart, rather than running it by my twitter editor first.

The tweet is based on an experience I had with an NYC shaman a few years ago when I realized that what I thought was anxiety my whole life actually had deep depression underneath. The shaman said the 'core passage' between my heart and neck was clogged with foreign beings. She guided me into my 'core passage' and I found bats. I'm not sure if they were real or if I was just trying to visualize something to make her feel like I was 'doing the work' and to validate how much she charged, but metaphorically it made deep sense.

Are most of your tweets impulsive or thought-out?

35% of my tweets are planned and 65% are impulse. It's a personal cycle of boundaries and insurrections. I have a Canadian Twitter editor named Tyler Crawford (a musician and my best internet friend). 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. There is nothing better than receiving a fresh batch of Tyler-approved tweets. It makes me feel safe and snug, powerful, with ammo to deploy. But inevitably I grow restless and seek to rebel against the very structure I've created. So I'll tweet for a few days in a totally freeballing, off-the-cuff style. 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.

Do you find one or the other easier or better?

It's all just dopamine and self-torture.

The Shaman story is kind of great, especially as I feel like it's not obvious from the tweet that it came from a real life thing. As far as you can tell, do you think your tweets mostly come from real life like that or develop out of abstract ideas?

I sort of live in fantasy, so I think both.

I like this tweet, because casually existential tweets are my favorite kinds of tweets. I also enjoy tweets with fedoras and / or dicks in them. I'm calling 'clap along if you feel like…' the tweet format of the Summer and plan to retire it after Labor Day.

Do you have other recurring tweet formats that you've retired or exhausted?

It's time for me to retire "roll up to the club in _______" but I never will. "gentle reminder that…" feels dead. "blood type: ___" feels dead but I'll probably trot it out again. "_____ in the streets, ______ in the sheets" is dead.

Are there tweet themes or formats that you love to see on your feed but don't necessarily use on your own twitter?

My favorite tweeter to steal formats from is @scribblymouse. I always dm him like 'imma steal that format.' Which we both know means 'I'm gonna steal your tweet and just change up a few words' because his formats are so unique that they aren't formats at all. It's the stealing that makes them formats.

This tweet personifies the great dopamine gift that is twitter. Real twitter junkies know this. Let's say you text a paramour and they don't text you back. Doomsville. But tweet about it and you are suddenly the romantic hero to many teen girls. RTs and favs provide great redemption for insatiable longing. #dopamine

Do you feel Twitter helps your poetry?

No, but it helps people find it. And it's better than living in reality.

Jenny Nelson is a writer living in Brooklyn.