Politics and comedy are an age-old duo that have been artfully combined before, and Elinor Lipman, the New York-based bestselling author of nine novels, has recently been adding to the canon. Her chosen medium, however, marries a more unlikely and paradoxical couple: Twitter and poetry. In late June, Lipman announced that she would be tweeting a political poem every day until the 2012 presidential election, an impressive endeavor considering there were 497 days left until the general when she began. So far, she’s made good on her word, and the 140-character couplets have been more than amusing.
Here are a few of The Observer’s favorites:
The project’s commencement coincided with the beginning (or second beginning) of another campaign: Michele Bachmann’s. Taking aim at the absurdity of the congresswoman’s false start at the first GOP debate, and the “real” announcement a week later, Lipman tweeted:
In Waterloo, her natal place, We hear Michele will join the race. Tho sure we knew this @ St. Anselm’s I will admit: her suits are handsome
On June 30th, Lipman considered the extended silence emanating from GOP primary candidate Newt Gingrich’s camp during the weeks after his campaign manager and a half-dozen of his senior staffers walked out on him:
Where is Newt? I miss the strife / his shrunken staff & hungry wife / Inflame & chafe! Stay in the race! / It’s only up from dead-last place
Though the daily gems are to come to an end with the 2012 election, it seems Lipman isn’t limiting herself to presidential candidates. The indictment of former Governor of Illinois Rod Bagojevich inspired this righteous rhyme:
Blagojevich, the jury’s back: / U can’t sell seats when fones r tapped. / You’re stunned? I’m not. U do annoy. / Is this what wins in Illinois?
Of the 94 tweet-poems thus far, a couple have been sincere in tone. “I was sure I wouldn’t be writing any solemn tweets, but I did so on the tenth anniversary of 9/11,” explains Lipman. In this case, the subject was the dedication of the “Empty Sky” memorial in Jersey City:
We praise the poetry of Jersey, / Not hallowed ground but standing by. / The chosen name for what it frames: / A monument called “Empty Sky”
More recently, Lipman has cheered the repeal of DADT:
Struck down today: Don’t ask-don’t tell. / Good riddance, stupid ban! / 1 harsh upshot was troops less hot, / Less neat, less fun, less tan
And Satirized Chris Christie’s agonizing indecision:
Christie’s saying “I’m not ready,” / Despite what’s sounding like a draft. / He could prevail: Too big to fail? / Think: Wm. Howard Taft.
Lipman, whom The Observer has met several times, is no stranger to satirical, political poetry; Her first foray into the ultra-niche genre, a poem of rhyming couplets titled, “Little, Nameless, Unremembered Acts of Kindness and of Love, By Me, William Jefferson Clinton,” poked fun at the former President’s relationship with his wife and was published by the Huffington Post in 2008. Lipman is, however, new to Twitter, having previously distrusted the social media platform.
“I’d always thought it a shallow way to communicate,” she said. She warmed up to trend after Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy explained the usefulness of the medium and found Twitter to be the perfect platform for her terse satirical poetry. Just three months young, her long-term poem-a-day pledge has already garnered quite the audience.
“Well, I don’t know if this is bragging, but when I started I had two followers, and now I have 612.”