Twitter Poet Makes Sharing News an Art Form

Keeping up with the news can be overwhelming, especially with the 24-hour news cycle. From cable news to radio and podcasts, print newspapers and magazines to websites and social media, people often get news from multiple sources, multiple times a day. In fact, we have so much access to news that, according to Pew, as many as seven in 10 Americans are suffering from “news fatigue.”

This news overload isn’t all bad, however; it has forced our industry to do more to keep readers’ attention. We have excellent new podcasts coming out regularly, young journalists who are taking risks to tell important stories, and more people are subscribing to news. And we’re all getting more creative in how we tell stories.

One of the more entertaining additions to the news landscape recently has been Limericking, a Twitter account that shares important news through — you guessed it — limericks. (Limericks are five-line poems that have a set rhythm and rhyme scheme. In a limerick, the first, second and fifth lines, which are typically comprise the same number of syllables, all rhyme; the third and fourth lines, which share a shorter syllable length, have a separate rhyme.)

The account started in 2014, but the recent spate of political news stories has made it all the more relevant.

The author’s ability to condense a complex news story down to a simple poem makes the news — even the most expected or political — a little more fun. From depressing news to pop culture stories that go viral to political news that can often feel overwhelming, reading about the news in a pithy poem makes it just a little more digestible for those caught in a non-stop news cycle.

The anonymous author is an academic with no news background, though they admit to being a bit of a news junkie. “[When I started the account], I was consuming a lot of news and opinion on Twitter and thinking that maybe my perspective was worth sharing, too,” they said. “I also had limericks on the brain, having just included them in a course for the first time. I saw examples of success with the form on Twitter, like the wonderful @twitmericks account. I figured I’d jump in and see what I could do.”

What started as a small way to share their thoughts has turned into a media Twitter favorite. More than 84,000 followers now wait Limericking’s daily tweets, many of them journalists and editors, including CNN’s Jake Tapper and Fox News’s Dana Perino. Limericking’s tweets are even reprinted daily in Canada’s National Post.

The author admits, however, that their process is not quite the same as what we’re used to in journalism.

“My process is not very deliberate,” the author said. “I log on when I can, scroll the feed, see what people are talking about and decide if I have a limerick-able interpretation of any of it to share.

“Although Twitter’s character limit has doubled, I still stick to 140, and that adds to the difficulty a bit,” they continued. “Some limericks come together in just a few minutes, but most of them take 20-30 minutes or more.”

That’s not to say the tweets aren’t often brilliant or scathing:

The author admits that there’s a whole folder of “attempts that were too terrible to tweet.”

The difficulty of the limerick is what leads the creator to suffer not from news fatigue, like most in the industry, but to feeling FOMO. “I only manage a small handful of limericks each week,” they said. “I wish I had the time to do more.”

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