The most emotional, thought-provoking and well-written poem I have read this year, I read on Instagram. Yes, the Instagram app, on my phone.
A gasp flies up from the gallery! Surely poetry is to be read aloud by revered actors at ticketed cultural gatherings in candlelight! Enunciated lovingly into cushioned microphones for literary podcasts! Hammered into the beleaguered minds of Leaving Certificate students, a couple of months before their state-inflicted summer Trauma-Fest requires them to spew poetic responses into pink answer-books!
Yes, those are the typical ways to consume the mysterious art form of poetry. Certainly, this is how most of us have encountered it in the past. For me, until the beginning of this year, there seemed to be only a handful of stuffy ways in which to enjoy it.
Human consumption of art changes and perseveres through any accessible medium – even after a global pandemic. With cultural gatherings disbanded, Instagram fills the gap and Insta-poets are enjoying success. Ranging from the witty to the wise, Insta-poems are double-tapped, saved and shared feverishly across the globe. Some Insta-poets have even won publishing deals on foot of their big followings – we have seen Rupi Kaur conquer the literary world, and RM Drake has infiltrated the feeds of cultural icons. And variety is in abundance, whether simple stanzas on blank backgrounds or wordy verses – there is room for all kinds of rhyme. Here are a few whose poetry will lift you spirits:
My favourite cyber-bard, Brian Bilston’s unique creations provoke positivity and joy for his followers. He makes sweet simple jokes throughout his works but while managing to keep his poems wholesome, without tipping over into twee. Sometimes Bilston will compose a ballad that plucks his reader’s heartstrings, or provokes a snort of schadenfreude, when he’s prepared to flirt with a political theme. But usually, Bilston sticks to a foolproof method of blending addictive whimsy with imaginative compositions.
Part of what makes this Northern Irish Insta-poet so influential is her honesty and emotional intuition. The immediacy of her expressions are felt all the more intimately due to the personhood of an Instagram profile. As she posts, and as we follow, a clearer image of the composer develops. You feel you really know her – a thrilling feeling, especially for those who have only dealt with dead poets before… Gill is very much alive, and shows you her heart in every line – whether it is painful or positive.
Off-the-wall and brilliant, I love Lord Birthday for both his chaos and his cadence. While he makes each post very visually busy, I find myself immersed in the story – or sermon – he delivers, usually in the form of a numbered list. Odd, I know, but stick with it! His poetry – well, I consider it to be poetry – is indeed weird but it is also sincere, simultaneously demonstrating a keen understanding of the human condition, and a flair for the dramatic. Ideal for those who seek to escape the humdrum.
There’s nothing like a good ol’ Hallmark verse! If you giggle at a well-balanced limerick, and love a punchy illustration to go with it, you might find your rhyme in Quarter Life Poetry. Aptly named, the page embraces its millennial base and wears this as a badge of honour, pairing its mid-twenties-leaning themes with dinky, simple melodies. However, try and find a cliché – you won’t! Quarter Life Poetry poems are as sharp as they are straightforward. Share to your story to get a guaranteed groan from the try-hards that might follow you…
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