Poetry is life distilled. —Gwendolyn Brooks

             Poetry uses the hub of a torque converter for a jello mold.  —Diane Glancy 

Following in the time-honored tradition of jello mold conversion, the Higher Edison Tiny Poetry Society announces a bold innovation in poetry, a Lillipoetic foray into less-is-more versification, a teeny-tiny new literary genre: the twitku.


Briefly (and we do mean briefly), a twitku is a micro-haiku. A twitku follows the familiar proportions of a haiku, but in miniature form. Instead of three lines of five, seven, and five syllables each, a twitku’s lines are five, seven, and five characters each. A twitku looks like this:


Economy of language is a poet’s metier. Similarly, Twitter is all about keeping it short and. . . tweet. Twitter meets poetry, and twitku is born.

Actually, the idea to hijack Twitter for literary repurposing came from George Mayo‘s excellent, elegant Many Voices Twittory project. If you’ve never met one, a twittory is a collaborative story written using Twitter. I like to think of it as 140 characters in search of a story. Each author signs up for a sequenced slot and is allotted Twitter’s standard 140 characters with which to further the story—an assignment which becomes more challenging as the story progresses from author to author.

Why write twitku? Mostly, like writing twittories, for the sheer larking fun of it. But the
English teacher in me is also jazzed about what we can learn by playfully experimenting with language. I learned about Many Voices from
Clay Burell‘s post Many Voices: A Global Creative Writing Twittory for K-8 Worth Joining.
Clay gives a list of reasons to be enthusiastic about Many Voices, a
list I’d love to see applied to nascent twitku writing projects.

And there’s almost as much fun to be had from simply exploring the expressive limits of a new medium. Sean Law tweeted this observation: "The twitku form fascinates me… the birth of a literary form through technological invention? Like writing novels because of the invention of the printing press…"


Ground rules and conventions of the twitku form:

5/7/5. Three lines, 5, 7, and 5 characters respectively.
Line breaks. Twitter doesn’t do hard returns, so indicate line breaks with a slash [/].
Spaces are free. Spaces don’t count toward your 17 character total.
Punctuation? You make the call. The purist stance says that punctuation counts. But, hey, you’re the poet—you decide. Be creative. Push the genre envelope.

It’s up to you. Bend the rules, or not. Find out what flights of expression are possible within the tiny confines of a 17-character poem. As Diane Cordell writes:

no bou/ndary 4 a/rtist


Calling all poets! Higher Edison’s Tiny Poetry Society announces a weekly twitku contest.

You can contribute a twitku in any of the following ways:

  1. Twitter: Send a tweet or direct message to @twitku575
  2. email: Send a message to sschwister[at]gmail[dot]com.
  3. comment: Leave a comment on the weekly contest announcement  post on Higher Edison.
  4. wiki: Add your twitku to the Twitku wiki Current Contest page.

Twitku submissions will be accepted until 11:59pm CST every Monday. Readers are invited to vote for their favorite from the week’s collection. The previous week’s winner, and polling for the next week’s contest, will be posted every Tuesday on Higher Edison. Contributions and other twitku-related goings-on will be archived at the Twitku wiki. All contributors are eligible for induction into the Tiny Poetry Society. Weekly contest winners will receive fabulous twitkudos in the form of a vintage "twitku champ" badge, now available in three bold-and-brassy colors:






Add your ideas for twitku/tiny poetry lesson plans and activities to the Twitku wiki.