The Rise of Instagram Poetry

instagram.jpgSienna Bahi

In recent years, there has been a noticeable upsurge in poetry’s popularity. One reason for this revival is the medium that it is being emanated through, that of Instagram. Arguably the pioneer of Instagram poetry, Rupi Kaur, has achieved undeniable success with her bestseller, milk and honey, which has been followed with her recent publication, the sun and her flowers. Crucially, her initial exposure and following success stemmed from her presence on the social media forum of Instagram. Likewise, there are many other Instapoets who have large followings such as rmdrk, j.ironword and r.h.sin.

When discussing why Instagram poetry appeals so greatly to the masses, it is interesting to note that there are a common set of tropes that many Instapoets share. One such similarity is the aesthetics of the poem, or rather the way that it looks within a post. They are very minimalist in their appearance, usually only making use of lower case letters, perhaps as an attempt to reject mainstream literary conventions, along with the use of a black font on a white background, evoking a sense of universality. Another important aspect for many Instapoets is the visual art element. For instance, Rupi Kaur’s poems are accompanied by illustrations, that feed into the overall message of the poem itself. As this is something not typically associated with traditional poetry, it is original and exciting, adding to the poetry’s appeal.

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With regards to the minimalist aspect of Instagram poetry, the content itself can be considered quite simplistic. This is not an attack on the works but merely a comment upon the fact that the poems do not use particularly complex language. This along with the relatable topics of the poems themselves, often concerning relationships, ties into the overall idea that this form of poetry is accessible to all, increasing its popularity. Equally, as they are very short poems, they act as little windows into the poet’s mind whilst still fitting into the fast-paced nature of social media. The length of each poem means that they can be read quickly and that new ones can be regularly posted, maintaining the reader’s attention.

The influence of Instagram upon the revival of poetry is indisputable, and despite their many critics, Instapoets are thriving. Chris McCabe of the poetry library at London’s Southbank Centre has stated that ‘thanks to social media we don’t rely on a critical interpretation of poetry to tell us what’s good any more’ highlighting the unconventional nature of Instagram poetry, in which the social media platform has given both new writers and readers of poetry a greater chance to engage with one another. Ultimately, it is encouraging to see that poetry as an art form has been reinvigorated and is receiving the recognition that it undoubtedly deserves.

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