Social Advocacy & Politics: The Poetry of Politics

Alan Rosenblatt Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy, turner4D

Posted on August 6th 2014

Social Advocacy & Politics: The Poetry of Politics

In response to suspicions that Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was responsible for the delay of the immigration bill vote, Representative Jim Himes (D-CT4) tweeted a poem to Cruz:

Sittin' at my desk,

Watchin' the news,

Rest of the day

Is up to Ted Cruz.

I have often turned to poetry for tweet content. When confronted by comments in my trainings that it is difficult to say anything meaningful in 140 characters, I typically responded that I love haikus and that you can describe the universe in a haiku. I also explain that I have counted characters in hundreds of haikus and never found one over 80 characters (our intern recently took this challenge and composed a 141 character haiku using very consonant-laden words… but it was very difficult). The point is if you can describe the universe with 80 characters in a haiku, then imagine what you can do with 140 characters.

After saying this at several trainings, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and launched @HaikuProgress. There I tweet about politics and policy with a progressive viewpoint all in haiku. And if someone else tweets similarly using the #ProgHaiku hashtag, I will retweet them (I go through phases paying attention to this account, depending on my workload elsewhere).

I have found that it is relatively easy to craft a haiku along these themes and that the novelty of using verse to make a point often works well. In fact, using poetry to convey a political viewpoint or social value can be more powerful than straight prose. Art has a long history of shaping public values and leveraging art in social media communications seems to be a good tactic.

So as Jim Himes is tweeting poetry to Ted Cruz this week, he joins me (among others?) who has also tweeted verse to Mr. Versus, Ted Cruz:


Davis protects rights / In a real filibuster / Cruz just wastes a day... #proghaiku

— haikuprogress (@haikuprogress) September 30, 2013

Try your hand at some Twitter poetry and see how it works for you. Report back here on your successes (and failures).


Alan Rosenblatt

Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy, turner4D

Alan Rosenblatt, Ph.D. is a social media and online advocacy strategist, professor & thought leader. He is Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy at turner 4D (formerly Turner Strategies), the co-founder and host of the Internet Advocacy Roundtable; and an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins, American, (Georgetown and Gonzaga Universities), where he teaches courses on internet politics. He was Associate Director for Online Advocacy at the Center for American Progress/CAP Action Fund from 2007-2013, where he created and directed the Center’s social media program, as well as Ombudsmen and co-founder at Take Action News. Alan taught the world’s first internet politics course ever at George Mason University in 1995. He founded the Internet Advocacy Roundtable in 2005; blogs at,, and occasionally/previously at,,; serves on’s board of directors and Social Media Today’s Advisory Board; In 2008, he was a fellow at George Washington University’s Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet; and is a co-founder of  Alan has a Ph.D. in Political Science from American University, an M.A. in Political Science from Boston College and a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Tufts University. Find him on Twitter and across social media at @DrDigiPol.

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