A New (Digital) Age of Poetry
In this modern day and age of cutting-edge technology and staying connected, it’s not surprising that even poetry has joined the digital world - cultivating and developing communities through all sorts of online avenues. It may be strange to think of a literary artform that has existed exclusively through print and spoken word having such a prominent presence online, but I think it has not only moved the craft forward and kept it relevant, but also increased its scope and made it more accessible to a wider audience.
Poetry and writing blogs number in the thousands - it’s incredibly easy to set up a website and get your work out there for people to see. Not only does this allow writers to acquire feedback and responses to their work, it also gives them a chance to create a platform and generate interest as well as gather readers. Even established poets can use websites as a way to keep their readers engaged and interested in them without the extra costs and stress of releasing a new publication.
I’ve seen poets really embrace social media as a tool for their artistic expression. In fact, some poets use that as their primary means of publication, choosing to post on Instagram or Tumblr rather than pursuing a print deal, which can be much more difficult to obtain. This makes releasing poetry much easier for anyone with a will to express themselves through language, and broadens the reach of the written word beyond just print. Utilizing social media also caters to younger generations who are notoriously tech-savvy and more likely to receive something in a digital or online format. This has widened the audience of these online poets and exposed young people to this brilliant form of writing.
Instagram in particular is one social media platform that seems to draw an increasing number of poets. The brilliant Rupi Kaur, who gained popularity with her moving self-published poetry collection milk and honey, maintains a strong online presence through her Instagram account (@rupikaur). Kaur not only utilizes her account as a publicity tool through posting excerpts of her new poetry collection and pictures from her international tours, but she also releases unpublished poems and drawings that do not appear in any of her existing collections. Although Kaur might be one of the most popular Instagram poets, there are a multitude of others as well. Tyler White (@tylerkentwhite), Jeremy Goldberg (@longdistancelovebombs), and Christopher Poindexter (@christopherpoindexter) are some of my favorites. They post constantly on their accounts - from shorter snippets of poetry, longer fragments and entire works, tattoos people have gotten of their work, or excerpts from their own published collections. What each poet emphasizes is the community they have generated through their works, and the responses and reactions their readers have had.
I think the most special part of poetry in social media is the closeness between the artist and the reader, and how easy it is for the two to interact. This creates an intimacy and connection that cannot be replicated through print-published poetry, and allows the poet to truly understand and experience the impact of their work and how it can affect others. I believe that this unique relationship is incredibly beneficial not only for the poet and the readers, but also for the work itself. It’s clear poetry’s digital age has not diminished its influence, or its capacity for artistic expression.