Rise of new era of poets
Literature and poetry in the entire world, that had taken a downhill road somewhere in the '90s is now coming back with a bang. Poetry in specific has gained great traction in the past decade. The internet seems to be the key factor in making this happen. If one were to open apps like Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram and randomly search for poetry, they would come across names like Atticus, Nikita Gill, Rupi Kaur and RM Drake very frequently. Social platforms like Instagram have given rise to numerous poets that have now gained international fame. These 'Instapoets' have created a sort of revolution in the field of literature.
The social media poets are not just artistes—they are entrepreneurs, using Instagram as a major marketing tool. While they primarily earn through publication and live events, sharing their work on Instagram is what opens the possibility for both. Rupi Kaur, the ultimate poet-entrepreneur, who has self-published both her books, 'Milk and Honey' and 'The Sun and Her Flowers', says she approaches poetry like "running a business." A day in the life can consist of all-day writing, touring, or, perhaps unprecedented for a poet, time in the office with her team to oversee operations and manage projects.
Kaur had been on 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon' last year where she rendered a reading of one of his favourite poems for the audience in what was a goosebumps-worthy moment. The poem is called 'Timeless'.
they convinced me
i only had a few good years left
before i was replaced by a girl younger
as though men yield power with age
but women grow into irrelevance
they can keep their lies
for i have just gotten started
i feel as though i just left the womb
my twenties are the warm-up
for what i'm really about to do
wait till you see me in my thirties
now that will be a proper introduction
to the nasty, wild, woman in me,
how can i leave before the party's started
rehearsals begin at forty
i ripen with age
i do not come with an expiration date
for the main event
curtains up at fifty
let's begin the show
- rupi kaur
She went on to explain why she had written that poem, saying, "It was just after my first book came out and sold really well. Everyone was hounding me to write more immediately and cash in on the fame before it dies, or someone better would come along, and I wouldn't be valued anymore. I felt really insecure for a short while and then decided that I will not give in to the pressure and continue writing at my own pace."
In an interview by Emma Watson for 'Our Shared Shelf', Kaur shared some very personal details about her journey. She said that her parents were not supportive of her writing because they were scared, she would ruin her career and fit nowhere in the world. When asked about how her first book was received and how her second one differs from the first, Rupi stated that the criticism she got as a person because of her work made her write her second book very differently from her first. She stated that poetry is not just her work, that it is her life's experiences and her personal journey. She also said that while constructive criticism is always appreciated, a harsh judgement on her work and rudely picking it apart is equivalent of someone analysing her life and critiquing her emotions.
This is perhaps why Atticus, another world-famous Instagram poet from Canada keeps his identity under-the-wraps even today. When asked at one of his readings as to why he keeps his identity in the wraps, he said that the anonymity helps to keep himself grounded and genuine to his work. Atticus rose to stardom on various social media platforms like Tumblr, Deviantart, Instagram and Pinterest with about 1.1 million followers. He is quite an established poet of these times, having published two books, 'Love Her Wild' and 'The Dark In Between The Stars' that sold well.
"Love could be labelled Poison and we'd drink it Anyway" -Atticus
"Loneliness, is a fire,
which I hold close to my skin,
to see how much pain I can stand,
Before running to the water."
Another notable poet of our times is Nikita Gill, who started uploading her poems on Instagram and Tumblr and now has an army of 2.5 million fans behind her. Apparently, her first published work was an article about the story of her grandfather, in an Indian newspaper. She was twelve at the time and realised how much she loved writing and telling strangers a story. A millennial poet, she has now published three books of her own that have been bestsellers.
"If all girls were taught
how to love each other fiercely
how to compete with each other
and hate their own bodies,
what a different
and beautiful world
we would live in"
Robert Macias, known widely as RM Drake is yet another self-published millennial poet whose book, 'Beautiful Chaos' had put him in the leagues of Edgar Allen Poe and Sylvia Plath.
"We are magic.
We are moments.
We are dreams and
We are memories.
We are everything.
And in the depths
We swim deeper to
Discover that we
Are not born whole
So, we cannot be
Broken. We are born
In twos, and we are
For the other piece,
That other person
To guide us home."
-r. m. drake
"People bring out different sides of
you... therefore, you should always
keep the ones that bring out the light."
-r. m. drake
"We live in a visual age enjoy experiences that can grab our attention at first glance. Instagram affords us that, with the vibrancy of the visuals and sounds that it lends to poetry. I think it gives a really nice dimension to poetry if done well.
Also, we all want to be micro-celebrities. It's a big kick to receive instant feedback and for those in the creative space, it's a solid incentive," says Jasmine Kaur, a budding poet and the author of '8 days to the weekend'.
"Instagram makes a good marketing tool and people can easily reach a larger crowd from platforms like this. I think that is why the whole Instagram poetry is trending," says Ananya M Sarma, a poetry lover and a budding poet, herself.
Whether it is due to the magnitude of its range or because it is a trend, the fact is that these authors are much more common in their themes, that make them universally engaging. Sometimes, these themes are darker and fundamental with no pretences, enabling them to resonate with their followers by being their authentic selves and displaying their vulnerability.