Poet culture is a funny thing. Depending on who you talk to any one, or number, or none of the following is true:
- You need an MFA to be taken seriously.
- MFAs are ruining poetry.
- Good poets read a lot.
- Reading too much can influence your work too much.
- Spoken word is poetry.
- Spoken word is not poetry.
- Slam poetry is too much like rap music.
- Rap can't be poetry.
- Rap done right is poetry.
- Poems have to rhyme.
- Poems should never rhyme.
- Traditional form is dead.
- Traditional forms are what make poetry different from other kinds of writing.
- Poetry must be political.
- Poetry should avoid politics.
- Confessional poetry is the only poetry.
- Confessional poetry sucks.
- No one wants to hear your angst.
- Angst is part of the collective human condition.
And then there's the whole mess over Instagram poetry. There are those that see it as helping redefining the genre for a social media age. And of course, there are its detractors and wannabe artistic gatekeepers. And then, the publishing angle, which paints a far more positive picture than gatekeepers and traditionalists want to acknowledge: that poets publishing on Instagram are helping the sale of poetry books.
Rupi Kaur's incredible success is only part of the story. There's all the drama over Atticus and the flame war started by Collin Yost. There's arguments over what IS and what IS NOT poetry. There are lists of Instagram poets to read and, of course, discussions over the trend.
When I signed up for an Instagram account a few years back, it on a lark. I hadn't heard of Kaur, or Atticus, or Yost. I was still a heavy Facebook user and Instagram seemed like Twitter... only for pictures. I started posting short poems there mostly because the limitations of the platforms gave me some boundaries to work in. I've been focusing on stripping the non-essential out of my work. Sometimes the pictures had absolutely nothing to do with the poem. Sometimes they did. Most of the pictures weren't that good, but it didn't matter.
And, really, nothing has happened. I've attracted some folks who like what I do, but I have no where near the reach that Kaur has. And that's ok. My phone-photo skills have improved. And my poems have improved, too... including the ones that don't get posted, the ones that get submitted to publications and contests. True, not every poem I post is a great poem. But I've learned over the decades of writing that it's impossible to gauge the work that way. I let them loose and they fly or they don't. But they are loose, just the same.
The current through the critiques of Instagram poetry is the same sort of critiques people have leveled at everyone from Bukowski to Emily Dickinson. Supposed experts and aesthetes ("influencers" for you social media savvy folks) seek to define what poetry is and what it's not. They can have at it. I'll keep doing my thing.
And if you like what I'm doing, hop over to Instagram (@dirtysacred) and give me some love.
Spring sunlight, cool day gratitude propels me on listening for music beyond ears expecting the best from coming years and walking the path laid down before me, like the links own rays. [Re: Inward music, outer gratitude] /ds #instagrampoetry #poets #poetsofig #poem #poet #wordsbyme #louisvilleky #southend #meditation #walkingmeditation #zen #Practice #process #everythingswims #lifeisart
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