The Poetic Meter of a Viral Tweet

September 27, 2019

Writer Frankie Thomas recently had a tweet go viral—it was the perfect combination of Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Cohen, and Shakespeare. For the Paris Review, she dissects why that tweet in particular struck a nerve, and how it seemed to speak to our need for poetic meter. “My Sweeney Todd/”Hallelujah” mash-up is not in iambic pentameter,” Thomas writes. “I wasted no time informing [a Twitter troll] so. ‘Nope, it’s actually iambic tetrameter,’ I admonished him in a public reply. ‘And more saliently it’s ballad meter.’ But with great viral fame comes great responsibility, and this is the point at which I must admit that I, too, was wrong. It’s not ballad meter, either.”

Image credit: Sonnet 23 in the 1609 Quarto of Shakespeare’s Sonnets

is a writer and illustrator. She is the author of two illustrated books, Last Night's Reading (Penguin Books, 2015) and Sanpaku (Archaia 2018).

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