Instapoetry is a style of poetry that emerged as a result of social media. This type of poetry is written specifically for sharing, most commonly on Instagram, but also other platforms including Twitter, Tumblr, and TikTok. The form usually consists of short direct lines in aesthetically pleasing fonts that are sometimes accompanied by an image or drawing, with or without a rhyme scheme.
Instapoetry developed as a result of poets trying to share their work to expand their readership. Writers of this "sub-genre" began using social media as their preferred method of distribution rather than traditional publishing methods. The term "instapoetry" was created by other writers trying to define and understand the new extension of instant poetry shared via social media, most prominently Instagram.
In its most basic form, Instapoetry usually consists of byte-sized verses that consider political and social subjects such as immigration, domestic violence, sexual assault, love, culture, feminism, gun violence, war, racism, LGBTQ and other social justice topics. All of these elements are usually made to fit social media feeds that are easily accessible through applications on smartphones.
Despite challenging the structure of traditional poetry, supporters argue that while a reader can easily dismiss the simplicity of the style, Instapoetry provides a modern take on traditional poetic principles. They argue that many works by writers in the literary canon were once criticized for deviating from the standards of their time. While Instapoets may be looked down upon by academia, these writers have opened a door to poetry in a way that traditional education has failed to do. Some academics appreciate the way in which it has stimulated interest in poetry.
Some critics view this style of poetry as a disgrace to "real" poetry. Vinu Caspar reflects on the ways Instapoetry has turned poetry into a "capitalist" endeavor. He believes that the words are emotionless and written to attract followers. The rate at which these instapoets produce new material, he argues, steals from "[p]oets who spend years honing their craft, carefully writing and rewriting every line, practicing their performance over and over...". The feeling is that instapoetry is a collection of words with little to no meaning, "under the guise of poetry." Similarly, Thom Young, a poet and high school English teacher, created a parody Instagram page as a way to mock instapoets and their work. He states "the younger generation is mostly interested in fidget-spinner poetry. Like they're just scrolling on their devices, to read something instantly, while the libraries are empty. I think people today don't want to read anything that causes a whole lot of critical thinking." The page was created to show how effortlessly anyone can become an instapoet, and to display the lack of difficulty in writing this form of poetry.
Reading statistics show that "leisure-reading" overall in the US continues to drop. From 2004 to 2017 "Americans who read for pleasure...[have] fallen by more than 30%" The drop in reading is also true for Canada, although less drastically, at around 1% per year.
Looking specifically at poetry sales, however, Booknet Canada reports that "in 2016, poetry sales increased 79% over 2015, and between 2016 and 2017 the units sold increased by another 154%" Similarly, in the UK Nielsen BookScan states that "...sales grew by just over 12% last year, for the second year in a row. In total, 1.3m volumes of poetry were sold in 2018, adding up to £12.3m in sales, a rise of £1.3m on 2017."
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