#poetry | Official Documentary

you put that on the internet and you're not a writer you're a blogger or you're an insta journalist or you're an insta power or you're a tweeter and suddenly that diminishes all sense of form of what you're doing I think that if anyone had had the platform that we have now they'd be doing exactly the same thing I'm gonna take pride in being an insta poet and if that's what you want to do doing because you can if journalists and critics are our gage poetry might be dead poets using social media instapoll 'its are swooping in and in a matter of years completely dismantling our understanding of poetry Instagram poetry lacks depth and substance our Institute's destroying the art form or reviving it this quiz is proof Ruby core writes bad poetry it isn't a new sentiment how many times has the internet or the damned Millennials using the internet killed something napkins real estate and now poetry there's backlash and pushback and I think the reason for it is that suddenly poetry is popular again yeah the first bestseller in English literature was a poet it was Byron he sold tons of copies that kind of avant-garde poets they hated that stuff and they thought it was too like mainstream middle-class like traditional conventional values so they rejected it they couldn't get their like badass poetry into those magazines so they started their own magazines which is awesome that's why self-publishing is exciting when you can do something on your own own you can do it differently and better reaching massive audience selling lots of copies this is crazy it's it hasn't happened in a century is Ruby core of the new Byron it sounds like a crazy question but perhaps has some truth or similarity in it she sold out a world tour she has posters billboard size all over bookstores in North America and she has sold 3.5 million copies of her collection I wanted to learn more about this I wanted to learn more about the community understand why we have this resistance to it and to figure out if poetry is indeed dead or if it has somehow been made cool again I decided to start by talking to a poet filters my eyes a little brighter my teeth a little whiter my skin a little clearer and my hair accidentaly a little greener the contrast of the exposure is not one that's clearer the definition of the portrait is one of a heavyweight Photoshop er vsco I feel pretty when I'm told I am I feel petty when it's as cold as I'm a barefaced liar hashtag no filter filter a scared face beauty in disguise er normal-looking human beings but my profile picture has you surprised as though it's an image I'd been dreaming the resemblance is close my jawline is still mine and my nose is still my nose but would I still be of anyone's desire if I wasn't hidden behind instagrams required mask the mask of a fool the mask of the 21st century cruel world or the mask of her self-conscious just trying to be cool girl does it matter I still sit in pixelate digitally deliberate cowl into an aesthetic looking ball until my anxiety as a candidate for Britain's next top face if be intimidated my idea of beauty was once so different so why have i confined that wonder into an ugly 4×4 square of imprisonment but as parameters smaller than the size of my thighs and his duller than the natural gradient of my eyes I sit back so often with a chest thudding sigh scrolling refreshing relentless tapping all down to an art and think since when did I ignore my own heart to hack at my own life and since when did I become an image to sell of a millennial with scraps of sanity as its price hello my name is Tony Cox and I'm a poet proof your boy is still mad I can't really even looking at no crying Congrats on this thank you my first question for you is why did you start posting poetry on to Instagram I have always been surrounded by friends that have put their work online whether that was music or videos or any anything you know it was always such an obvious natural saying that if they'd created something and they wanted to share it they would put it on YouTube or write a blog post and then one day a friend said look you're writing all of this poetry you love it we all like it why didn't you put it on night it's like no one's going to engage with it on Instagram that seems like such a nuts thing and I was completely wrong mmm every time I post something and I see someone like or comment or share it that I know isn't you know isn't massively into books or has never been to a poetry show it's like this is actually really cool that poetry is becoming cool again what is your process like do you write a poem specifically for Instagram Instagram for me is purely a platform and a place to put it I would never let that impede a creative process or it's certainly nothing I've ever written or shared has been driven by the thought of Instagram it just so happens that it's a nice place and a nice community to share it oh yeah I've never sat down and written a poem I thought this one will go down well online yeah because then what's the point do you think that this could have happened if you hadn't started sharing your poetry online do you think that that was an important part of this project coming to fruition massively I am not ashamed or embarrassed about that when the books that I read first said Oh Charlie Cox Lansdale with HBO HarperCollins some of the reaction was quite astounding with why it's only because she's got an Instagram oh it's numbers now that get book deals the only way that I've tried to understand it is maybe you know is it taking something that is so precious and very steeped in academia and being really smart and really articulate and have people having studied English degrees and really getting to know their stuff is now being slowly pulled away from them by people like me it's like hi I left school at 16 that's probably really frustrating mmm I can understand that mm-hmm but I don't think that that should be a slant on the work how do you feel about the term Instagram they just send shivers down my spine I'm not even doing that for dramatic effect I feel so good collected in one sense I am NOT embarrassed or ashamed that I post my wife on Instagram or that through posting my work on Instagram I have managed my dream of getting a book deal but I don't like what comes with the term insta poet nobody ever says insta poet as though it's a good thing it's a copy yeah it's not a compliment which I don't know if I'm allowed swear go for okay it's a total you in previous years you would never have degraded somebody's quality of work because of where they put it fine it's novel it's you know it's shiny it's funny it's comical that all those crazy kids at it again with the internet thinking they can be smart like are we we're not just doing exactly what you did but with new tool forty years later it seemed to me that sharing poetry online wasn't a revolutionary act for Charlie it was simply a logical move if you create something you post it online in the dumbest generation mark Bauerlein argues that young people have a brazen disregard for reading and books and that isn't what I've noticed what I've seen in my conversations is that their reading but in a very different way maybe in a way that we don't yet consider reading possibly yes people are not sitting down to read a poetry collection but maybe they're finding their poetry while scrolling on Instagram after all rupee Coors 2.8 million Instagram followers didn't press follow to not read her poetry poetry comes in many forms and in the same way that literature is popular you can dan Brown and then you can have literary fiction why not power chain Kirstie Melville president of Andrews McMeel publishing the publishing has the first published milk and honey and has since published so many Instagram poet makes a really interesting point with novels I think we've come to understand that there is popular fiction and literary fiction and obviously there are blurred lines but we are okay and happy with these two arenas but with poetry maybe it's felt that there's only been a literary poet scene and maybe that there's some resistance and pushback because of where those popular poets have come from many seem to take issue not only with how the poetry is being consumed but with the type of poetry Rebecca Watts writing 4pn review a well established poetry journal wrote a piece titled the cult of the noble amateur in which she argues that these poets are ruining poetry and it's simply a commercial enterprise and she chose as her main example Holly McNish author of five books winner of the Ted Hughes award and a poet who happens to post her stuff online when I reached out to Rebecca about being in this documentary she said she'd felt she'd said everything she needed to so I sat down with Holly to talk about what was written in that piece I was supposed to be reviewing Holly's new collection but to do so for a poetry journal would imply that it deserves to be taken seriously as poetry McNish a slapdash assembly of words celebrates the complete stagnation of the poet's mind I'm Holly McNish and I work as a writer and a poet why is the poetry world pretending that poetry is not an art form I refer to the rise of a cohort of young female poets who are currently being lauded by the poetic establishment for their honesty and accessibility buzz words for the opened integration of intellectual engagement and rejection of craft that characterizes their work the short answer is that art 'less pertree sells I can see that sort of resentment of the idea of people sort of jumping on this art form in order to get followers and maybe there are some people that are doing that but I mean that's always been the case in our if Shakespeare was around today I'm pretty sure he'd be putting updates about all his plays that were on on Instagram or Twitter or short Robert Burns would have probably been posting up his love sonnets probably tagging girls they wanted to meet up with on Instagram like I don't think a lot of the poets that we look at in a certain way wouldn't be using these platforms and and I keep putting them up there just because I think it's just as nice a way to share your work this idea that just because that you then put them in a certain space rather than sending it to a publisher or a more literary magazine then deems it something that you haven't spent time doing just because somebody finds poetry that they enjoy on Instagram and then follow someone maybe in order to get updated with the poem every day that makes them a follower rather than a reader even though they're they're still reading poetry in the way that they would read if they had gone to a bookshop and buy a book cultural commentators are pandering to a strain of inverse snobbery that considers talent to be undemocratic in acting thus they are playing a part in the establishments muddle-headed conspiracy to democratize poetry poetry that's published in a book is maybe more likely to have been works really bit more likely you've had an editor more like there's been other people look at it I'm still pretty sure it's probably easier together but published if you come from a wealthy background can dedicate a lot of time to it no people in the publishing world I don't think it's that anyone has a problem with us nigger poets sharing stuff online I think it's because now publishers that they deem a certain type or standard of poetry have have now published books with I guess poets who were who have been seen as not not of that type or not that standard yes yes I just think there's there's space for it all like the new president the new poets are products of a cult of personality which demands from its heroes only that they be honest and accessible as McNish understands the cult of personality that social media fosters works precisely this way once you care about the person you'll consume anything they produce especially if it makes you feel better about your own lack of talent it's not like of quickly written something in order to put it online enjoying it likes I was going to do that I'd hold a cat up to the screen or something she's gonna kind of see more than that of you just instantly want anyway bit of Fame online and I can understand why they group us together but I just think it shows probably that they maybe haven't read well actually know a lot about any of the artists it's the grand poet's really I just find it funny that I've thing called an Instagram poet I've been called a YouTube poet but I've never been called a bit poet just might having five of them spanning about thousand papers publish but maybe about a poet then I don't care really Holly points out an important tension between medium and credibility where we post something and how seriously it's therefore taken why is the term insta poet if not to differentiate from book poet and what therefore is a book poet what is it about posting poetry on Instagram that makes it different so if you want to be taken seriously as a literary writer yeah it's done happen online it's changing but very slowly but still like among serious literary journals there's there is a distinct hierarchy between print and digital it's like oh I got into the digital edition of this famous journal that's good but it's not as good as getting into the print version Pauling and Charlie both point out that social media allowed them to enter an arena they didn't feel privy to before an area that felt academic and literary and uninviting so I sat down with an academic Johanna Drucker of UCLA to ask her why academia might be having this pushback the issue here is the snobbery of the poetry police it's like Bethel poetry well it says like yes it's aside like what is there like a statue someplace that you have to you know like a legal definition of what poetry means it has to like belong to some modern esoteric avant-garde I think the issue with Ruby chords of people in the Academy are really annoyed that their authority has no Purchase in the popular world and guess what it doesn't nobody cares you know people who care about what academics there are other academics you know the anxiety of the Academy on losing you know more and more of its sort of market share I think it's obvious and that's a bigger cultural problem a study released by the Poetry Foundation found that it was pretty split down the middle of people who were college educated and weren't college-educated who read poetry therefore my theory is that it isn't simply that academics and literary folk are reading poetry but that they're the ones owning the conversation around it they're the ones writing about poetry the ones writing reviews about poetry and suddenly that's been blown wide open there is a large passionate and public conversation happening currently online completely separate from academia in kids these days Malcolm Harris points out that in America teenagers have better access to the Internet then adults can read therefore how could we not have imagined that their relationship to how people read poetry wouldn't change it is an all backlash there are many people who are on board with this new movement including Kirsty malifaux who is actively and excitingly publishing these books as the world has changed I'm constantly thinking about where 2-bit books fit in people's lives and how do they interact and I don't think it's an either/or world and I think that a lot of the poets who are on Instagram see themselves as writers and instagrams as a platform for them as opposed to them being instead poets there's a sort of elitism to do with it but it's mostly I think to do with the fact that there's a new generation that's coming along to challenge the old and that's always there's always attention with that whenever there's a new art form the the the dominant orthodoxy of the day will be critical of the new art form so I think that that's part of what's going on as well and that's a natural dynamic that happens whenever you have changed you know in a medium there's clearly a shift happening and I think one of the largest factors is the amount of people that now have access to poetry and have access to sharing poetry in a theory of mass culture the text brings up the idea of Gresham's law of culture the concept that if culture isn't protected it will be destroyed the essay was written in the 50s this is not a new concept anxiety over what happens when the masses are introduced to an art form or any other cultural outlet is not a new feeling I think the real opportunity comes in how we respond to that fear and ask questions about why do we feel resistant to this type of poetry why do we have backlash towards it in highbrow lowbrow Lawrence Levine discusses the concept that there's been a long-held idea that some people can recognize culture and others cannot and that the young and inexperienced cannot be creators of culture the most recent poetry conference that I attended only had one panelist mention roofie Kaur throughout the entire weekend even though the year that milk and honey was released poetry sales went up 79 percent in Canada I do not feel that this movement whether we like it or not agree with it or disagree with it it's something that we can ignore I'd argue that much of the resistance comes from a genuine place of caring that people that love poetry are concerned about what might be happening to it that it might be changing and so here I am to confirm it's changing but that might not be a bad thing regardless of whether you like the poetry or the poets one thing that is undoubtedly different is the platform Instagram was launched in 2010 it's now owned by Facebook and it has over a billion users to understand this movement it is vital to understand the platform to see how it's affecting the poetry affecting creativity affecting the readers so I sat down with poet opilio Saleh to understand how Instagram was affecting her poetry can't I just be a black woman that loves herself in peace without having to explain why my skin be it honey or molasses is a dream when my hair course or sleep is a crown can't I just be a black woman that loves being a black woman without having to be sorry or humble or polite about it damn it who else has to justify loving themselves like this who else has to fight for the right to call themselves a blessing goodness can't I just be a black woman that loves herself in peace my name is Emilio Salah I'm from Malawi I was born and raised in Malawi and then I moved around so New Mexico Baltimore and then Oxford now where I'm studying a Masters of Science in medical anthropology currently you have a really beautiful theme right you post a poem and then a photo of yourself and then a poem and a photo of yourself back and forth how did you decide on that theme but also how is the process of that I decided that I wanted to keep my page really personal and in that in a sense that you can tell who was writing the poetry where I can tell who it's about and you can see parts of my life I got this message one time this girl was like the poems are not wrong enough I want to know what happened at the end I want to know this and I was like you're missing the point it's about you it's not about me like it's not about me all the time sharing things it's it's weird yes people will get a sense of who I am what I've been through but I'll always have more story left why did you decide to make a physical collection if your poetry was working so well online cuz I love books yeah I'm a poet who happens to share my work on Instagram I'm taking advantage of social media and the platform that it's given us in this time of social media just from looking at my direct messages right now I'm seeing or or hearing of other poets who positively changed people's lives I think that Instagram poetry is is important you know it's changing people's lives in every which way and though it might have been two lines three lines four lines it changed it like it made them think otherwise and so and so if old poetry is not doing having that same effect on people then why should the literary community not find a way to embrace poets like myself you know and this is why we have to go off and do a lot of self-publishing because traditional publishers don't seem to know where to fit us how do you feel about the term Instagram port or insta poet that is often used i definitely embrace it I mean when I when I talk to people I'm like woah what okay you know maybe I can convince you to buy my book look at my social media right right now all the way you can follow me right now and then you can get a sense of who I am and what I'm feeling I don't think I don't get offended by the term I am I I am proud of my community Lupe Lia was very aware and very transparent like all the poets I have talked to about the fact that Instagram is simply a platform for what they're doing I wanted to better understand some of the statistics and ideologies we have around social media so I sat down with Katherine Ormerod author of why social media is ruining your life to better understand how this platform might be affecting the poetry my name is Katherine Ormrod and I'm an author a journalist and an influencer if that is your device that you're carrying around with you or all times obviously it's going to influence the way you consume all forms of media all forms of art basically all forms of culture the fewer followers you have obviously the less relevant in the ecosystem your work is and that's a really rational understandable you know basic marketing conversation the second level is probably the more problematic side of it but obviously it's the way that you emotionally feel about being popular about being validated by those that like and follow you that might potentially have an impact on the way that you create in the way that you want to feed the followers rather than you know if you only got validated when you had a big exhibition see if every single day you're getting those hits of dopamine when you get that validation and that makes you feel good what kind of an impact is that going to have on your creative process whistleblowers more and more are telling us that the creators were super aware of the fact that this was a you know a way to really make us be addicted and to kind of hack our brains to make us feel really good about ourselves for a second and then this little you know plummet in esteem and keep us coming back and back for more we've all been guinea pigs for the past five years say when you know people have really been into it now we're starting to realize that there are things that we need to be careful about and that if we want to be able to really maximize on the good that's out there we have to be really aware of the bad as well we don't like the relationship between art and commerce and you know we never have that's meant to be a penniless artiste you know sitting in their Garret only finding success now untimely death from tuberculosis by having this strong brand as an individual it negates that anonymity and against that idea that you're not making any money from your work and I think even though you know a poet might be making money from themselves as a poet rather than necessarily selling their work somehow that's all bound in on one kind of feeling about it that it's it's art for money it's poetry for pounds you know it's very easy to look back on it and be like how if I spent the past three hours in this like superficial circus of nothingness what have I gained from this absolutely nothing except for you know a few lashes of self-loathing anything that makes you think or question or take that moment to truly engage is amazingly positive and that is what art can do on social media as Kathryn points out we have so many preconceived notions and ideas and well researched statistics and facts about how social media affects what we see on social media and affects us after we have spent time there in the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction Walter Benjamin talks about this concept of traditional context how much the surrounding environment affects what we're looking at and what we create I think that that is crucial here the way that you create a poem if you think that someone's going to sit down with a book and read it it's going to be different than the way you write a poem if all you know is that they're going to be scrolling through a photography based app to see it I think there's a point at which too much distribution actually changes the nature of art and I think like that kind of creative freedom that goes with DIY art I actually think it makes more sense if you can you have a sense that you can control your audience a little bit you're not just writing for everyone Adam brings up another important layer of complexity that Benjamin is also concerned with the ways that the context is further changed you are making something in a mass sense if something can be reproduced on Instagram endlessly that that may completely remove that kind of context I think that this might be one of the main reasons even unconsciously that poetry on Instagram is so short sure it has to be short to physically fit in that space of that of a photograph but maybe it needs to be short so that it can work in almost any context as a creator on Instagram you have literally no control over the context of your image you have no idea who is going to look at it where they will be standing or sitting when they look at it and you won't even get to choose what image is shown above or below it on someone's feed because that decision is made by Instagram how do you write poetry for the platform talking with many of the poets the way to get past this is to not write for the platform it's to write your poetry the way that you would write it and share it on Instagram and hope for the best such as it's consumable it's conceived and executed within the frameworks of consumption that's a really different thing most poets in our universe think to know what's expected and to package what you're doing to fit what's already the defined space that's part of what's going on there let's talk about the algorithm any Instagram user knows that the algorithm is an elusive and mysterious force that obviously because of the sheer amount of content Instagram cannot be curated or run by humans and therefore a computer is making a series of decisions to show you what it thinks you will most enjoy if your opponent then how can you appease that algorithm to ensure that your stuff shows up and is shared posting more often posting things that catch people's attention these sorts of things are how you make the algorithm happy but what happens to writing when you're trying to satisfy an algorithm as opposed to satisfy readers now I don't think that's what poets are doing but I think that it's a part of the platform and therefore must be considered the platform affects the poetry no doubt about it but I do think that there is a mistake in assuming that because you post on Instagram all of the poetry is going to be the same apart from posting on Instagram many of the similarities fizzle out some people post images of themselves alongside their poetry but some remain completely anonymous some post poems sporadically incorporate illustration who incorporate visual art who incorporate photography the themes all change the personalities all change we have accepted that an author is simply someone who writes they can be a romance author or a crime writer but at the core they're an author why then must we label poets on Instagram as insta poets in Rebecca watch this article she argued that like the president these new poets have a cult of personality and there is some truth to that I disagree that being a personality or a brand inherently detracts from your poetry but it is true that Instagram allows for a type of small celebrity however I think that there's a deeper and more important similarity shockingly to the new president that can be taken into account you know ruby chords of the devil and benign you know sort of an example of a phenomenon that we have in in the most sociopaths illogical form in our current government because we have the tweet president and that is truly dangerous and truly destabilizing and really terrifying because there is no constraint between the thumbs the screaming and the broadcast so you know give me a rubric or any today if social media has the power to impact presidential elections why would we think that it wouldn't impact poetry the impact that social media is having on poetry may very well be inevitable if it's happening in every aspect of our lives too a bridge into the city horoscopes say the same thing I think about the world in the bath sky so miserable New Yorkers are crying for 5:30 p.m. this murky water all these weird us if he's on my shoulder should I be like Jack Gilbert with frank O'Hara with a touch of ruby core for relatability but make it specific to you this is what they're telling me somewhat cut tongues and fingers from picking up my almost book and inhaling the words some say take your time what I know is that in this book there's too much talk about pretty drunk Creasy illuminated boy dreamy oak floors and brick walls so I'm really curious what you think of this term Instagram poet or instant yeah they think there's a lot of negative connotations like attached to an Instagram poet but I you post a lot of different things I'm not just post not just like pull one photo upon what I'm very like spreading so I feel like it you know works for me and I don't really think anything negative about that I like that time I think so why would you like it why do you think it works it's kind of weird but it makes me think of like how would Bukowski use Instagram like ask you how would I mock themselves you just post published this collection and I'm really curious why make it physical right oh my god if you are posting your poetry online you're posting it on to Instagram people murmuring it they're responding to it they're double tapping it right you're getting that feedback how would you feel if your poetry was only digital like is it so important to have itself on it yeah yeah like I'd love to just like I I'm someone who always cared that book around with me every way it goes like maybe two books to a party to a club whatever and so I feel like it's really important to heaven something that's like solid yeah I would neither like I've been struggling with because I'm if it's like oh can you please do a paid version I'm like I don't know why but yeah I think it's so important cuz I love you know writing in the margins and literally putting sticky notes Internet and like yeah I mean I kind of a tech all my books you decided to go completely your own way yeah you put this together I'm guessing you made the cover Yeah right you did everything you've decided on the order you decide the ending was like I bet but you could have tried a traditional right I mean I was so close to like the signing yeah with traditional publishing agency the thing is like I don't really think my always kid who was publishing with you know they don't give a about no it's this with us they just I wanted to just by and we done them to click a button you know Amazon Prime into the house might as well do you think that Instagram poet has in a way become a genre I think we because phenomenal I think she didn't really good writer but she's the only one that can sound like that and now we were now sound like that that's the problem it's not really cool it's a promise everyone falling out of it like I think it's so incredible that people that Ruby cool essentially did this that people so essentially that I can really spoken people read me you know she did that for I think she did that for everybody that's true it's just in a way it's stagnant now because it's like all people reading is the same thing even when I was away I will be caught stroke and I think she's only one that can do this so I like to think okay if I sold myself out maybe a like you know maybe I'd be so that success she is but I don't want to do that I'd rather be when I was speaking with Indy I felt like I was talking to a poet I didn't feel like I was talking to an Instagram poet or an Internet poet I just felt like I was talking to someone who was enthusiastic about her writing who was excited to share it and had found a way through social media to find an audience to share her collection what really interested me was that she decided to publish a physical collection and this made me think is Instagram poetry just a new iteration of DIY culture is it just a way to self publish which has been a huge part of poetry's history from egi why is not just a practice like you do it yourself it's also an ethos right you're like I am doing this because I refuse to participate in this like corporate commercial approach to artistic production if I participate in that my work will be tainted so I need to keep it pure by doing it myself I think when you're publishing on Instagram you're already not participating in the DIY ethos to some extent right like they people who are using Instagram are likely aware that it is owned by Facebook and that is not some like ideologically pure space that kind of like friction that existed then like it was really hard to get your stuff out because it had to be printed you had to like get a printing press together and like press it onto paper and it cost money so there were barriers to it I don't think that friction exists today it's very easy to publish stuff so I think the art you get is gonna be different like a lot of modernist art actually was inspired by all kinds of things but one of them was how hard it was to get published and so you would have to like work struggle to get it out there before speaking with Adam I had considered DIY to literally just be doing it yourself but he explained to me that there is also a conceptual side of that that it's about understanding your audience and really curating it how does that change then when you have a mass audience or at least a potential for a mass audience interestingly there seems to be two types of self-publishing happening on Instagram the first is the act of putting a post on Instagram it is a form of self-publishing you are deciding on your own to share something with the public but there is a second form it's using that audience you've garnered to self publish a physical collection why have so many Instagram poets decided to print physical collections and not to necessarily go through traditional publishing but to self publish them well as Indy said she doesn't feel that her audience cares where the book comes from they simply want a book of her poetry in mass authorship and the rise of self-publishing Timothy la quinta no discusses the importance that publishing has had over authorial identity how writers feel in many cases that they become legitimate writers and authors when they are traditionally published through a publishing house or a press obviously self publishing has been happening for millennia but there's definitely a new feeling when you have a well-established audience enough on a platform such as Instagram that you don't need the validation anymore that you feel the validation is simply in presenting the object to your followers that will then happily buy and read it in an interview with PBS Ruby core said does it hurt you when the poetry is being critiqued as more you know therapeutic or more you know emotional rather than real poetry you know not really and it's because I never really intend to get into the literary world this is actually not for you this is for that like 17 year old brown woman in Branson obviously rupee cord doesn't speak for all of Instagram poetry but I think what she says here can maybe give us a hint of what this community is doing if she's saying my writing is not trying to be the serious like fancy type of literature but it's just poetry that is non-literary that is insane and amazing and exciting because that has not existed for like a hundred years there has been no non-literary poetry that people actually read and consume she says this isn't for you there is a question of who that you specifically is but I think more importantly the question is well then who are you writing for and I think she's writing for people like herself women young women women of color people who if we're honest poetry hasn't specifically been for in the past I think measures of for proper our heirs have been based for hundreds and hundreds of years well in in the UK especially on a kind of privileged white straight able-bodied my own writing I didn't have to march around X amount of publishing houses and meet inevitably old white men who aren't interested in me or my work and presented to them that way one of my takeaways from Instagram poetry is that it's probably not directed towards me as an audience and I think that's probably one of the cool things about it yeah like poetry is is in a really horrible state and it has been for a long time no one reads it it's like very sad so the fact and it's because it's directed towards people like me that is so sad when I speak about like going into a space and making it yours I think that's what women of color are doing that's what queer writers are doing on Instagram it is truly like breaking down doors and saying we are here and are working because this then our work is powerful and it means something to a lot of other people in Mary beards women and power she argues that you cannot easily fit women into a structure that is coded as a male you have to change the structure I see this Instagram movement as a restructuring or at the bare minimum a new structuring a separate structure I cannot get through this conversation without mentioning that the majority of Instagram users are women and that the vast majority of participants in the Instagram poetry community are also women I think that this restructuring has had an impact outside of just Instagram when I asked kirsty Melville what she looked for in a new poet she said looking at the quality of the writing and and what the message is that the writer is trying to say on Instagram and then I'm also looking at the engagement whether people interested in what the poet has to say and and how many people responding or commenting and then I look to see whether other people refer to the work so I sort of look in different places to see how popular someone is and what the message is and whether that fits with what's going on in the cultural moment impact and reach emotional resonance and popularity these are the things that Kirsty mentioned she didn't mention literary merit some critics might frown or cringe at that but I think that if this is a restructuring this ecosystem is simply looking for different attributes kirsty is a champion of this movement she's pushing forward she's actively celebrating the community so I wanted to also talk to a more traditional publishing press and I reach her to Faber and Faber it was able to talk with Hannah Marsh head of marketing for poetry my name is Hannah Marshall and I work in marketing department at favor and favor without question we basically only had very few avenues for sort of promoting our poetry books poetry have specialist presses but they don't have much review space for sure the platforms that you can use are really well designed for poetry not that they are designed for poetry but they just happen to be Hannah also told me that Faber launched a new poetry podcast earlier in 2018 I don't think that this is a coincidence I think that the enthusiasm of the Instagram poetry community has spilled into other arenas online and has allowed for a poetry podcast to thrive she also told me about the high attendance at poetry events I definitely feel like that all these really cool poetry events going on not just in London like all over the UK and that there's just a really exciting buzz to these events there quite often packed out you know the crowd is really diverse it'll have young young audience members older audience members and it they're really really exciting things so I feel like events are as important if not more important than they ever be when I saw Ruby Cora perform here in Ottawa in late 2017 she had sold out an entire museum but not only that she had sold it out to mainly young women young women who were so enthusiastic about her poetry that they were screaming throughout the entire show responding to her poetry that wasn't about rape trauma being a woman of color self empowerment and feminism critic Lindsay Ellis explains this phenomenon through Twilight that yes Twilight has problematic elements but that one of the main reasons we've had so much of vitriol against is that we love to hate what teenage girls enjoy we see their interests and tastes as petty vain and unworthy of seriousness I think that this is a huge reason why Instagram poetry has such a backlash and that we don't want to take it seriously because it is for and by young women for the last year any time I have walked into a bookshop I have seen a table full of poetry right at the entrance and I always think two things the first is that this happened because of young women and the second is that on that table there is often also Ginsberg Plath or Yeats this whether you like it or not is a part of poetic history one of my favorite things is to see Ruby sitting next to John Keats and on and the Odyssey a lot of us grew up reading it and loving it learning from it and I don't see why that can't be a double yeah a double sided relationship laughing AHA role of Elizabeth Fisher Gilbert Charles Bukowski my favorite poem is called wild goose by Mary Oliver was kind of the reason I started writing poetry actually so Pablo Neruda Sandra Cisneros I definitely love the Asha daily word there's kulikov Fatuma I also love Mary Oliver and Sharon old any time you share something of Sylvia paths it's just a case mega people love love the work you know it's a huge connection there with readers perhaps Instagram poetry is also functioning as a gateway Matthew Zapruder in why poetry explains that poetry has for a long time had the reputation of requiring more education or special training to understand and is therefore not attracted a lot of people maybe this is changing that I would argue that probably many of these readers are enjoying this poetry and then going to a bookstore or library to find more and accidentally finding TS Eliot the question is no longer if this is poetry or if this is good poetry but how this changes our perception of all the poetry that has come before it you

24 thoughts on “#poetry | Official Documentary

  1. Watching this was amazing and it put together amazingly it was very eye opening. I am a poet who shares work online this has really made me think about the places I share my work online. I would spend more time watching YouTube, if more stuff like this is made

  2. I love this documentary! So well thought out and put together! It echoes a lot of my own personal sentiment on these issues, so I featured it in my article on this subject.

  3. EXCELLENT doc – the limits of instagram 'space' can be seen similarly to making a haiku – within the boundaries, possibilities open up….if your only exposure to poetry was haiku, you'd have a pretty limited vision of what poetry is, and same with consuming poetry on instagram….but how many published poets put an image behind their poem, for instance, very few….so new technologies open new possibilities, they are neutral, their use is up to us….

  4. Ariel great job but only one did the satire and prove how easy it is to Instapoet and get it in the national media proving I am right kudos to you for making this interesting documentary

  5. This is an absolutely wonderfully done investigation and discussion on such an engaging and relevant topic! Thank you so much for the time you put into this content!!

  6. I like all forms of sharing poetry, I've read poetry books, I follow poets on Instagram, I've even listened to poems online through YouTube. No matter what way you have the poetry, it is still poetry.

  7. Great insight here. Best wishes to all poets out there – whatever platform they choose! I recommend removing the inane background music tho

  8. It took me some time to get to this, but I found this really interesting and like your thoughts! This seems very professional and I hope to see you doing more of this!

  9. Rupi Kaur's famous because her poetry reaches the demographic of kids too lazy to pick up a dictionary to structure a strong enough poem so she calls tweets poems, for example "the way they leave tells you everything"

  10. The issue is not the platform in which they publish- it is the lack of quality, style, substance, and intellectual rigor. Labeling their work as poetry is insulting to the art form and an utter disgrace on the part of publishing companies. It is a shame that accessibility has surpassed quality and capability.

  11. I thoroughly enjoyed this documentary and so pleased that you have taken the time to address this issue. Very well done. xx

  12. Great video! I've just started to post poetry on Instagram so it was good learning about the conversation that's surrounding instapoetry. My only issue though was the music 🙁 I found it very distracting. In fact, I thought there was an ice cream truck around my house at first lol. Otherwise, great content and something all people posting writing on instagram should watch.

  13. I'm so glad you are doing what you are doing: bringing conversations usually stuck in a university to "the people". I found this documentary very interesting and also very freeing. I've always considered myself a writer, but when I did try poetry, I felt like a sham. I felt it was a world I would never understand, never belong in. I gave up writing poetry for that reason. I don't have any social media accounts (besides YouTube, I guess, if it is considered as such) and was not privy to many of these poets. A part of me now feels 'This is a community that I actually could be a part of' and 'If I go back to writing poetry now, I will only be jumping on a bandwagon already full of pioneers.' So a part of me still feels like a fraud. Sorry, this got so personal, but this documentary as affected me so! Thank you for this wonderful conversation starter.

  14. Very cool documentary! Nice to see the exploration of social media's impact on the poetry scene. I have gotten into writing spoken word poetry that's scientifically oriented and I've made a playlist of them if you want to check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EuLAUfbLR8&list=PLL4gQNkUQ50KyN4PD7gIheRT9UnakOtw7

  15. Anything new that the younger generation brings is criticized by the older generation that doesn’t want to see their worldview changed.

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