August 1, 2014

NYPL Launches National Poetry Contest on Twitter

Beginning Friday March 1, denizens of the Twitterverse will have the opportunity to test their poetic chops by entering a new poetry contest designed by the New York Public Library (NYPL).

As part the library’s efforts to raise awareness about poetry leading up to National Poetry Month in April, NYPL is encouraging aspiring poets to “follow @NYPL on Twitter, and submit three poetic Tweets in English as public posts on your Twitter stream between March 1 and 10, 2013.” Each set of three poems will constitute a single entry. To qualify, all three must contain the @NYPL Twitter handle, and at least one of the tweets must reference libraries, books, reading, or New York City.

“Twitter seems like the perfect medium for this contest,” Johannes Neuer, NYPL Associate Director of Marketing, told LJ. “It has a wide reach and requires a lot of discipline and creativity because it’s restrictive [in terms of character count], which makes writing for it challenging.”

Neuer said that the contest was partly inspired by the Twitter Fiction Festival—a five-day, experimental virtual storytelling event organized last fall by Twitter, NYPL Labs, The Brown Institute for Media Innovation, and the Plympton literary studio devoted to ‘”serialized fiction for digital reading.”

“It was inspiring to see how well this microblogging platform is suited for writers, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing the poems that are published,” he said.

Ten winners will be selected by a panel of judges, based on originality, creativity, and artistic quality. Each winner will receive a set of poetry books including Red Doc> by Anne Carson, Quick Question: New Poems by John Ashbery, Place: New Poems by Jorie Graham, The Narrow Road to the Interior by Kimiko Hahn, and The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 by Lucille Clifton.

Their work will also receive significant exposure. Each day during National Poetry Month in April, NYPL will highlight one of the 30 winning poems in its social media channels, reaching more than one million of the library’s fans and followers. And, winners could potentially be selected for inclusion in an upcoming special edition NYPL poetry ebook.

Writers and poets interested in participating must first register, so that NYPL has their twitter handle and contact information available. Requiring participants to include the @NYPL handle in each submission will enable NYPL’s Meltwater Buzz social media monitoring software to capture entries and match them to this list of registrants. The panel of judges will then review all of the collected entries and select winners by March 18. Participants can submit one three-poem entry per day, and all poems must be original, unpublished, and must not have won any prior awards.

“We’re looking forward to reaching a lot of people with these poems, and inspiring them to engage with poetry—and maybe write poetry themselves—through retweets, commentary, likes, +1s, and blogs. And, of course, hopefully we’ll inspire some people to follow the New York Public Library year-round on our social media channels,” Neuer said.

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Matt Enis About Matt Enis

Matt Enis (menis@mediasourceinc.com; @matthewenis on Twitter) is Associate Editor, Technology for Library Journal.

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