This year’s Guardian Hay festival will include an award, judged by Stephen Fry, for ‘the most beautiful tweet’ ever written
The host of literary heavyweights to descend on the Guardian Hay festival may be more used to reviewing substantial literary works, but messages of 140 characters or fewer are set to share the festival stage this year in the search to find the most beautiful tweet ever written.
The search for the winning tweet begins tomorrow and ends a week on Friday, and the tweets will be judged by the unofficial king of Twitter, actor and writer Stephen Fry.
“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,” said the festival’s founder and director, Peter Florence.
Organisers have promised a diverse lineup at the 10-day festival this year, including playwright Tom Stoppard, novelists Zadie Smith, Martin Amis and Philip Pullman, and the former Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf. And while the inclusion of Twitter in one of the world’s foremost literature festivals – called the “Woodstock of the mind” by former US president Bill Clinton – might provoke some raised eyebrows, Florence said the competition was in keeping with the festival’s non-elitist approach.
“There are a lot of clever, inspiring and intuitive tweets from people taking a lot of care in their tweets. And when you do get a good one it does make you smile. Some people write great postcards,” said Florence.
“Good writing is good whatever format it’s in. Young people tend to do it more creatively. There’s room for some really stylish prose. We all have two or three people whose tweets we really look forward to. It’s a little jolly and a leveller. We can all write tweets but not all of us can write poems or novels.”
The social networking site commands a sizeable following with more than 50 million registered users worldwide. Fry, who has over one and a half million followers and who has tweeted on subjects ranging from aggravating theatre-goers to ruminations on early starts – “Whoever invented the breakfast meeting should be roundly spanked” – may have his work cut out. The site achieved a daily average high of 50m tweets in February.
Nominations for the most beautiful tweet must be posted on the Guardian Hay festival Twitter account, @hayfestival. A shortlist of the best tweets will also appear on the festival website, with the winner announced on 6 June.