“@StarWars_tweets” by Christopher Jones

Screen shot from “@StarWars_tweets” by Anonymous. A Screen Shot of a twitter account. Black background with a blue light-saver. A square is above the text with the title “Star Wars”. Text: Star Wars/ @StarWars_tweets/ Every word of the script of Star Wars, one tweet at a time/ One Tweet At A Time”. Below the picture there are posts of the twitter account. The account has 1,987 tweets, 151 following and 68 followers in this picture. Text of the posts: “PIETT yes, my lord. VADER Make ready to land out troops beyond energy shield and/ moves away, slightly confused, touching his throat as it begins to constrict painfully.”
Open “@StarWars_tweets” by Christopher Jones

This poetic Twitter bot requires little explanation as to its concept, except for a minor clarification: by “the script of Star Wars,” it refers to the whole original trilogy. Perhaps this was not always the case, but it is currently tweeting the complete script to “The Empire Strikes Back” (written by Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett base on a George Lucas story) one line every 40 minutes.

Some readers may wonder what this particular work is doing in a scholarly blog about e-poetry. There is plenty of Star Wars fan fiction in Twitter (and elsewhere)— I’m partial to comedian Joseph Scrimshaw’s “Star Wars: A New Hope in tweets” and “Ordinary Star Wars“— but they’re not engaging the material poetically.

The Star Wars script has been used for e-poetry before. See Brian Kim Stefans’ “Star Wars: One Letter at a Time” for a lettristic approach to the material. @StarWarsTweets engages it in larger units, organizing it into a more mainstream poetic device: the line. Consider the goal of the line break as described in the quote below from a short essay by Dana Gioa:

The purpose of lineation in verse is to establish a rhythm of expectation that heightens the listener’s attention and apprehension. The purpose of poetic technique, especially meter, is to enchant the listener—to create a gentle hypnotic state that lowers the listener’s resistance and heightens attention. Free verse lacks the steady physical beat of metrical poetry, but it seeks the same neural effect by different means. Lineation is the central organizing principle of free verse.

You can read all the tweets here in a format which will allow you to better appreciate its line breaks. Here’s a key scene in The Empire Strikes Back which shows the strategic use of line breaks and intervals between tweets.

  • leaving everyone in the room slightly dumbstruck. With some smugness, Luke Mar 08, 2013
  • Then she turns on her heel and walks out, Mar 08, 2013
  • on the lips. Mar 08, 2013
  • With that she leans over and kisses Luke Mar 08, 2013
  • know everything about women yet? Mar 08, 2013
  • she focuses on Luke. LEIA Why, I guess you don’t Mar 08, 2013
  • up like that, huh, kid? Leia looks vulnerable for a moment, then the mask falls again, and Mar 08, 2013
  • HAN Who’s scruffy-looking? (to Luke) I must have hit pretty close to the mark to get her all riled Mar 08, 2013
  • nerf- herder! Mar 08, 2013
  • scruffy-looking … Mar 08, 2013
  • … half- witted… Mar 08, 2013
  • Why, you stuck up, Mar 08, 2013
  • Leia is flushed, eyes darting between Luke and Han. LEIA My…! Mar 08, 2013
  • Luke sparks to this; he looks at Leia. HAN She expressed her true feelings for me. Mar 08, 2013

Consider how each tweet cuts the prose script into lines (sometimes much shorter than a tweet) to draw attention to its language, creating pauses to enhance the moment. Remember that the time it takes us to read the lines above is negligible compared to the 40 minutes between tweets in their serial presentation. This interval creates suspense, not in the events (which every fan of the saga knows), but in the textual portion to follow, particularly when involving memorable lines from the films.

To read this free verse edition live is a unique experience of this iconic Trilogy— one that deploys the scripts’ relatively simple diction to evoke the powerfully archetypal imagery and narrative of the films.

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