For ten days every summer in the UK, more than 100,000 people gather in Hay, a small Welsh town on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park, for a festival of literature. Bill Clinton once described The Hay Festival as the “Woodstock of the Mind”. This year’s festival starts on 27th May, and, along with authors including Nadine Gordimer, Martin Amis and Phillip Pullman, the line-up includes a special place for Twitter. In fact a special prize for Twitter, as Stephen Fry will be awarding a prize for the most beautiful Tweet ever written.

As the festival’s founder and director, Peter Florence remarks:

The definition of most beautiful tweet could fall into a number of different categories: it could prove the most eloquent; the most impassioned; the best demonstration of a clever pun or metaphor; the most evocative description of a place or emotion, or perhaps prove that brevity is conducive to levity, and be the wittiest tweet ever committed to the Twittersphere

I’m not sure many of my Tweets (@mattrhodes) are eloquent or impassioned and I don’t often weave a clever pun or metaphor into them. But maybe now is time to start. I love the concept of the competition, but perhaps more I love that Twitter is being discussed and reviewed alongside more traditional understandings of the word ‘literature’. Too many people, often those who have never used it, think that Twitter is full of people saying such things as “I just ate a sandwich”. The truth is that most people are using Twitter to convey meaning, information, opinions and emotion. It is a new and growing communication medium which has spawned its own style of writing and expression. An award for the most beautiful Tweet ever written is exactly what we need.

How is the most beautiful Tweet being chosen?

Judging begins on Monday 21st May and nominations can be sent to the official festival Twitter account: @hayfestival. A shortlist will then be posted on the festival website and the winner announced on the 6 June.

So choose the Tweet you think most beautiful and send it the the judges now to see if it wins.

Image by TPorter2006 via Flickr

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