Social Media Boosts Local Flavor

Poets, dive bars, Facebook, and Twitter

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Once a month a small but growing troupe of modern beatniks gather at a dive bar in what has traditionally been considered (and still is in some circles) a rough part of downtown Lexington, Ky., for the Holler Poets Series, a live literary event focusing on local talent. Thanks to social media and the Internet, poetry is experiencing a bit of a resurgence in the collective artistic psyche, and the Holler Poets are no exception.

Al's Bar
Al’s Bar, last.fm

Sometimes you look around and realize you’re in the midst of a growing phenomenon, and other times, well, you can’t discern a thriving sprout from a weed until it’s grown a little more.

In Kentucky, the word “holler” has multiple meanings. A holler is an old country term for hollow, a valley between mountains; holler means to yell (perhaps across the holler) and if there’s any hip hop in you then it means you holla back, y’all. The word serves as a nice linguistic symbol of the overlapping cultures in this sort of US nether region—it is but it isn’t the South, the Midwest, the East, or whichever geographic category one might wedge it into. Sometimes Kentucky’s all of them, and sometimes Kentucky’s none of them.

Frank X Walker
Frank X Walker

Al’s Bar, boasting of the world’s shortest draft beer list—Bud, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, and Stella Artois—is where one might meet and hear the rarest of poetical breeds, Affrilachian poets like Frank X. Walker or Crystal Wilkinson, put words to the vibrations of their hearts and histories before an eager and growing mélange of naturalist hippies, collegiate literati, daily grinders, corporate climbers, local hustlers, and, yeah, rednecks too.

Crystal Wilkinson
Crystal Wilkinson

Knowledge of the event is spread via articles and ads on blogs and in local arts papers like Ace Weekly , but also via word of mouth among the literary crowd and each member’s respective social circle on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.

Holler Poetry Poster
Holler Poetry Poster

One might think hard times are good times for poets and writers. And that’s true because good art is born of pain or beauty or both, as the soul reaches inward after reaching outward fails to earn purchase. One also might think that when the marvels of far-far-away are too financially burdensome to reach, people start to rediscover their local flavors. That’s also true, and also good for small and local businesses looking to compete in a world that, up until this year, seemed to value the mass-produced, watered down, conglomerate-all-you-can-eat-chain bonanza. While they struggle to hold global market share, Al’s Bar will be playing host to at least a couple of Tweet-ups (Twitter pal meet-ups) this month.

This is what will continue to make social media more powerful and relevant in the future. Social media offers voice and reach to those who have historically struggled to attain audiences, those who can’t afford advertising campaigns and depend on local business, those who don’t fit into the corporate mass-market machine, those who choose local flavors over homogenization, those who depend on heart and soul to survive—and that, as the economy, the nation, and the world reboots (rather than recedes), is the heart and soul of the American dream.


Social Media Boosts Local Flavor
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  • http://zerbetron.com zerbetron

    this is a great article and really hits home for what social media is supposed to be about. While I understand the marketing side of social media, this type of interaction is exactly what the networking was intended for. I’m hoping to see more of this type of creative emergence in the social media realm.

  • http://www.socialpro.net social media marketing

    Just another example of the power of networking

  • Guest

    Hi, Jason: Loved your quote,

    “art is born of pain or beauty or both, as the soul reaches inward after reaching outward fails to earn purchase”.

    Well put. I think successful social media campaigns are #1. one’s where the human element is greatest, as people want connections and #2. they want social proof.

    Most successful social media campaigns are frought with these two ideas in mind.

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