Exploring the Lure of InstaPoetry

What is InstaPoetry, is it real poetry, why is it so successful, and what can be learned from participating in it?

Image Credit: 
© 2018 Connor Sansby / Used With Permission

I wasn’t a very big fan of InstaPoetry, the genre of poetry spawned from the photo-sharing app Instagram. Poets like Rupi Kaur and R.H.Sin have built their brands on sparse, singular images, and people have accepted it. Often times I’ve found these poems to be fragmented, parts of a whole that will never come to fruition.

I believe being a poet is work. We spend our days ruthlessly self-editing and boiling our creations down long after the initial conception of the idea. There is a dignity to this, the idea that we may not have captured the fleeting image in an instant and accepting that we, as writers, will continue to grow and become better.

© 2018 Connor Sansby / Used With Permission

By contrast, the InstaPoet seeks to capture the moment as they see it. These errant ideas belong to the moment, sometimes without even the time spent to proof-read. I’ve lost count how often I’ve seen typos in InstaPoems that wouldn’t stand elsewhere. I have seen InstaPoetry as lazy, and arrogant; lacking that time and dedication, and proclaiming that poetry is easy.

That’s the crux. Poetry in its simplest expression should be easy. The labour and grinding we put into it is part of becoming a great poet but to just be a poet is achievable to anyone; we just have to allow the barrier down. As social animals, we spend our days filtering our expression and in busy modern life, we have no time to wax lyrical or loquacious on the beauty of the everyday. InstaPoetry jumps this; provides those single snapshots of the moment and celebrates that. It may not be great poetry but it is poetry and to dismiss it is to limit one’s contemporary influence.

Not every single shred of writing should become an epic. Some tiny scraps of poetry are beautiful in their own right and to drown them out with excess noise is to do them a disservice. The haiku is one of the most beautiful forms of poetry, in my experience, and InstaPoetry belongs to that same mould of capturing beauty where it is found in the most succinct fashion.

Of course, not all writers are beautiful yet. Some have raised issues on identity politics, some have typecast all women as tragic or in need of the love of a man. These problems are not exclusive to InstaPoetry, and it’s short-sighted to believe otherwise. Problematic poetry exists in all forms of writing. What has become troubling is the success of those InstaPoets who exhibit these tendencies.

As the genre evolves, I am almost certain that we will see an evolution in these tendencies. New poets will rise and give way to the next big medium but, for the moment, we should be glad that people are still making time for poetry, albeit briefly.


Connor’s InstaPoetry can be found at @connorsansbywriter

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Connor Sansby is a Margate-based writer, editor, poet and publisher through his super-indie Whisky & Beards publishing label.

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