There’s a new type of self-published saccharine poetry that’s sweeping the nation, straight from Instagram to a bookshelf near you. You’ve seen it on the bookshelves—maybe Lang Leav’s Love and Misadventure or R.M. Drake’s Beautiful Chaos or R.M. Drake’s Black Butterfly or R.M. Drake’s Broken Flowers.
These so-called ‘Instapoets’ have translated their success posting short lines on social media into real life success. For example, Rupi Kaur’s milk and honey is a New York Times Bestseller. She has 1.1 million followers on Instagram.
For those uninitiated, here is a sample of her poetry as taken from her Instagram.
“ do not bother holding on to
that thing that does not want you
you cannot make it stay -rupi kaur “
It should be noted that most posts include a black and white illustration, which I believe is an integral part to the Instapoet experience. The placement of the text and the accompanying illustration are as, or even more important, than the words themselves. A flip through any R. M. Drake book reveals mostly black ink drawings with sparse lines of poetry.
The elitist in me wants to brush off this popular form of poetry as mass-produced, sugar coated, Hallmark card level, talentless work, overshadowing better voices. It seems to me that anyone can hit enter, delete periods, upload it on Instagram and call it poetry.
Yet, its popularity cannot be ignored. Somehow, these simple phrases seem to strike a chord with the masses. Instapoetry is accessible. It’s easy to share and easy to understand. It’s also immensely relatable (especially to the angsty broken-hearted teen inside us all). Most of this Instapoetry seems to follow the same themes of either love, self-destruction or self-empowerment. What person alive has never felt heartbreak or self-doubt?
Instapoetry at its very worst is a handful of cliches mixed in with a couple spaces and a typewriter. It seems to be a parody of the stereotype—one that takes itself too seriously. At its best, Instapoetry is a thought, not overly preachy or sentimental, that forces the reader to think, if only for a moment.
My only fear is that aspiring poets might see this type of poetry and limit themselves to pretty words and pretty pictures. There is a visceral depth that seems to be rare in this form, a depth that needs to be thought out in more than just a sentence and a drawing. Poetry develops and transforms, but at its core, poetry is more than just sweet words.
That being said, I hereby throw my hat into the ring with my own Instapoem.
#poetry #love #Instapoet #follow4follow