With her book of tweets, Elinor Lipman captures the Zeitgeist in a way that few 60-something professors manage to do.
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“I serenade you, Barney Frank
Brilliant wonk & witty crank
You’ve had enuf. There’s no good will
But O what giant shoes to fill.”
So went a tweet by novelist Elinor Lipman on the day congressman Barney Frank announced he would not run for re-election. Soon afterwards she got response from him by email: “As a great Ogden Nash fan, I’m delighted to be the subject of a poem that evokes him to me.”
It turns out, Lipman’s tweets have made an impact beyond just Democratic congressmen.
Politics and Twitter are no doubt national obsessions, but to fuse them with poetry like that is something fresh and new – a cultural first. And while we have seen books of tweets before, like Steve Martin’s The Ten, Make That Nine, Habits Of Very Organized People. Make That Ten, we haven’t seen anything like Lipman’s latest – a compilation of her rhyming political tweets, called Tweet Land of Liberty: Irreverent Rhymes from the Political Circus (Beacon Press). Already big-time writers like Jonathan Franzen, Jodi Picoult and Judy Blume are raving about it.
A widow of 61, Lipman may seem an unusual candidate for harnessing social media in a novel way. But she’s a seasoned writer, with more than 10 novels to her name, and on top of that she has taught creative writing at Smith college in Northhampton, Mass. For Lipman, the tweets were a treat.
“Rhyming partisan politican quatrains is my Twitter identity,” she says. “The novels are my day job. The tweets bring instant gratification.” Lipman has always written special-occasion doggerel for friends’ birthdays, some of which – a faux Valentine from Bill to Hillary Clinton, for example – were even published online along the way. And her Twitter followers are similarly enthusiastic. “That’s because I’m preaching to the choir,” she says (Lipman is an unapologetic liberal.) “Once in a while someone stands up for Republicans or dressage, but it’s like spitting into the wind in terms of my loyal partisan Facebook friends.”
It all started when she joined Twitter in June 2011 to promote her books, and Andrew Cuomo so happened to be announcing the Marriage Equality Act. So she made a tweet out of it, a political one. She called it “Twittering” until her son corrected her. And now she is obsessed. So far, she has posted over 400 rhyming tweets, and she has sworn to tweet every day until the elections. Check out her Twitter acount here.
“It’s not just because I want to promote my book, though of course I do,” she says. “My goal is to re-elect President Obama!”
Here are a few choice tweets from Lipman’s book (Romney supporters may want to look away):
God is mad at Washington
The weather makes that plain
Bachmann says, if she is prez
We won’t get hurricanes.
Guess which star made Romney’s day–
Yes, Dirty Harry had his say.
Mr. Offbeat Law Enforcement
Just announced his MittEndorsement.
For help with Jews in Gallop Poll,
Mitt went to the Wailing Wall.
He prayed “Dear God, while overseas,
Please cure my foot-in-mouth disease.”
Ever shameless, Bachmann’s back
With trademark lunatic attack:
She can’t relax on land or sea
Till ship of state is Muslim-free.
Mitt is raising more & more,
But all it does is underscore,
That rich guys need their pal elected
& every one is light-complected.
It’s blazing hot & crops are dying.
Climate change? The Right’s not buying.
Mitt’s working on it, tho on break.
His answer: jet ski on a lake.
GOING ROGUE is now on sale.
(That happens when you leave the trail.)
Walmart has a ton on hand.
Not big readers, Palin fans?
Back & forth the 2 teams shout
“You get out; no YOU get out!”
Newt tells Rick he’d sweep the Right
Rick tells Newt: Go fly a kite
Who will win & who might quit?
It’s caucus day & we’re all braced
To see who pleases all-white taste
Still supporting Herman Cain?
This country’s not a pizza chain!
Ex-staffers swear the guy’s a schnook
His business model: sell my book
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