Image Source: The Cut
2016 was indeed the year poetry’s popularly took off. You know this is true because (A) it’s the year that Wired (yes, the technology magazine) published, “Don’t Look Now, but 2016 is Resurrecting Poetry,” (B) it’s the year Rupi Kaur, now the best selling poet of today, self-published Milk and Honey, and, finally (C), two years after the trend’s inception, Adweek reports “Brand are using poetry to cut through the noise and grab viewers’ attention.”
All this being said, the power of poetry didn’t occur to me via any of these headlines. It’s impact hit me via a friend of a friend. She’s your classic Colorado hippie kid, new to LA. She read me something while we were taking a coffee break on Abbot Kinney. The poem was good, disarmingly so. It just felt weird being shared alongside children spinning in the astro tuff of Tom’s cafe, their parents cautiously eyeing our exchange.
I wasn’t per say sold on poetry in that moment, but I was warming up to it’s allure.
I can remember an earlier moment when poetry caught be off guard. I was popping in and out of shops in Silverlake, I remember a particular day with a certain store clerk. I think it was a while ago, may 2016. He was kind enough to engage in a bit of banter about writing and recommend The Tin House. He also admitted he dabbled in poetry. I just have this feeling (now) that he’s probably pretty good but in the moment I recall being baffled by his interest in such archaic art.
Beyond my friend’s interest, that store owner’s, and even Nike’s, I’ve finally woke up and realized that poetry might be having a moment. The more I looked for it the more I saw: The Disconnect was featuring poetry next to articles on modern culture. Vanity Fair’s’ Hot Type page I realized highlights new books of poetry. The New Yorker’s poetry podcast. It’s lovely. And one of my new favorite books, Light the Dark, references poem after poem, moralizing that these little sets of verses have catalyzed many careers.
Poetry is indeed having a moment. I have since confirm with Google. And that moment is surprisingly happening in large part on Instagram.
So for all those, like me, that have been in the dark. Poetry is not old and dusty, and clearly not dead. Nor is it solely for speaking of meadowlarks and daffodils. Poetry right now is ringing with politics and other timely topics. It’s punchy. It’s short, to the extent it can fit on a filter-worthy post. The new era of poetry is empowering the old guard to step up their game, but the new era of poetry is led by the youth. Gen Y, as per usual, knows what’s up.
To get specific about the metrotic rise of Instagram poetry look no further than the author mentioned above: Rupi Kaur.
Speaking more broadly, somehow the rise of poetry feels very 70s. Poetry — when well-written — has a way of transporting you to a place and emotion that often takes longer with prose. It has this intimacy with the reader, and a degree of vulnerability. Poetry isn’t wiring. It’s more like music, demanding to be felt first and understood later. Look no further than the great John Ashbery for a bit of confusing beautiful lines.
When sussing out the state of poetry. It’s worth mentioning. The critics of pop poetry are many, and they may have a point when they say that poetry is intended to be “hard,” but in these times maybe a little bit of flower power 70s love and verse is just the kind of medicine Instagram needs……………….or pop poetry could be just another kind of photogenic nonsense disguised in feelings and flux typewriter font.
Who’s to say, but when it comes to personal taste, I think I’ll take the confusing over poems that fit neatly into perfect square, all the while thanking the ‘pop poets’ for putting this art form on more radars.