Commercialized poetry

12.05.2020

Since reading Shakespeare in secondary school, and briefly touching upon the war poems of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, the seed of my love for poetry was soiled. But it didn't grow the same way that my love for books grew. I've since been following Instagram-famous poets such as Atticus, Rupi Kaur, and r.h.sin, and as much as I read and adore some of their poetry, I sometimes think to myself is this considered "real" poetry?



What is considered "real poetry" anyway? Poetry is art through language and, like many other art forms we know of, there's no real meaning, real purpose, real anything. It is simply a unique and creative creation that we make and we enjoy – and since everyone is unique in their own way (differing opinions, experiences, and perspectives on life), everyone has a different understanding of what is considered "art". So, in truth, there really is nothing in this world that would finitely define what "real poetry" is. 


For me, what I consider "real poetry" is something that takes me into another world or through an experience. Like how when I'm reading a book, I'm immersed in that universe through the imagery and language: the distinct voices and traits of the characters, the rich narration, and vividness of the descriptions. Poetry that is able to do that, and sound like a song sung from the tongue, is what I consider "real poetry". 


However, the poets like the ones I mentioned – Rupi Kaur, r.h. sin, Atticus, as well as Nikita Gill and Courtney Peppernell – all produce poetry that seem generic. Ones that follow the same themes and motifs of self-love and terrible relationships and heartbreak, or - even worse, imo - going into the "manic pixie dreamgirl" where it's like "she used to drink the wine / like how she used to love me" or something like that (basically anything by Atticus). From what I've read in their aesthetic looking poetry books and beautifully designed Instagram posts, they all seem to use the same recycled words of "she", "love", "drug", etc. and follow the same pattern or "design frame". 


Poetry is one of the most beautiful art forms, and perhaps my favourite, but with the new wave of Insta-poets, I feel this art form has been filtered down into commercialized poetry


Commercialized poetry? How I see it, it's poems that are a short and quick read that is direct and objective so anyone can read it/be universally understood. To me, this goes against the subjectivity and poetic language that poetry is well known for; as pointed out by this article. I don't want to say that poetry is an academia (which I don't think it is), but Insta-poems have ruined the core and true artistic nature of poetry that I grew up learning about through Shakespeare, Sylvia Plath, and Emily Dickinson. 


I applaud Rupi Kaur and Atticus for pioneering this new wave of poets and bringing poetry to the mainstream media, making it as popular as it was before the age and evolution of technology. But the fact that poetry had to be dialed down into something more consumable for readers, rather than as the complex expression of the nature of the artist, just kind of shows that, really, there is a lack of appreciation for poetry. 


Maybe people have different ways of expressing themselves, but something that I noticed was how easy it was to create an Instagram handle, type a bunch of words about falling in love whilst drunk on a plain white background, and become an Insta-poet - this guy did it, and he did it successfully.  


I think that there are many other great poets who definitely deserve more recognition in the mainstream, some of which includes Solmaz Sharif (she wrote a fantastic collection of poems that played with fragmentation and white space), Eileen Myles, Mary Oliver, and Jericho Brown (whose collection of poems "The Tradition", won the Pulitzer Prize in literature). If you want to take a break from short, forward, and generic Insta-poems, I highly recommend looking into these poets! 


What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you think Insta-poets are too generic and commercialized? Or is it just a new way to express in poetry? 

4 comments

  1. I haven't read good poems since high school though. I used to write some back then but I can't really produce something like the classic ones ^^, For me, writing poems nowadays would be nicer if it's well constructed, relatable, and witty. But in all honesty, I just realized that I never follow someone who writes poems in the media. I usually kind of enjoy more something like TheArtidote or Charlotte Freeman who writes short life advices/thoughts. Anyways, thank you for the recommendation. I would like to put something different on my newsfeed other than quotes :)

    beyond beneath

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    1. Hi Fiona,

      I absolutely agree with what you're saying! Amongst some of the best poems are ones that are rich with a story and imagery. But then again, everyone is unique and we all have different opinions on what we consider is good or bad literature.

      Thanks for your comment, and I hope you like my recommendations :)

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  2. I absolutely agree with you (even though I’m not the typical poem reading person. I like Warsan Shire. She’s not an insta poet, but she’s one contemporary poet whose poems I really enjoy reading.

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    1. Ooh, I will check her out. Thanks for the recommendation! :)

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Thank you all for your lovely comments :) I will get back to most of you as soon as possible, so make sure you are checking back x

nicole isabel