Feb 1st, 2020, 05:49 PM

Instagram's Unsung Poets

By Caitlin Kelly
A poem written by @chamomilde on Instagram.
Image Credit: Kate G.
The internet can lack creativity – but these poets on Instagram have another story to tell.

The internet has revolutionized the process of creating and showcasing art, making it more accessible than ever with the use of social media. Artists, fashionistas and makeup gurus often have entire Instagram accounts dedicated to promoting what they create, producing some of the platform's most popular content. One form of art that isn’t as talked about though is poetry.

When someone mentions Instagram poetry, a certain image probably comes to mind. Instagram poetry is simple, lacking in complex language. The subjects are usually thought of as cliche. In the creative writing community, “Instagram poetry” has evolved into a synonym for “bad poetry.” However, from what I’ve found, this isn’t always the case. 

It’s true that many famous Instagram poets do align with their universal stereotype. But, with the help of a digital poetry movement started by author and Youtuber Savannah Brown called Escapril, many creative new voices have joined Instagram, forming a movement of young poets on the internet. In April of 2018, anyone participating in Escapril was asked to write a poem a day inspired by the list of prompts Brown provided. 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

a poem! this is called skins. for prompt ‘a fresh start’. @letsescapril #escapril #escapril2019

A post shared by savannah brown (@savbrown) on

 

Like the one above, many of the poems used graphic design to their advantage, making their work stand out visually and fit perfectly into the aim of Instagram: to curate aesthetically pleasing media in combination with the art of the written word. I contacted a few poets, most of whom seem to be girls in their teens or twenties, and asked them a couple of questions about their experience with Instagram. 

One Instagram poet, @chamomilde, told me a little more about how Escapril impacted her getting started on Instagram. 

“I was looking for a platform where I could share my work in the meantime, as I was simultaneously submitting to publishers. I started to feel at home on Instagram with Savannah Brown’s Escapril collaborative challenge, which was a fun way to challenge myself to write every day in the month of April. It became a supportive community of poetic people who inspire me every time I scroll through my feed.” 

Another Instagram poet, @jasmine.s.higgins, who recently published a book of her Instagram poetry called "A Girl is a Shapeshifter," says, “I think people often look down on creatives who use social media to promote their work because it can seem like we only do it for likes and follows, but really, you can get likes for doing anything nowadays, so if someone is writing poetry, chances are it’s not because of any 'trend' – it’s because they’re a writer.” 

Image Credit: Jasmine Higgins
 

However, the internet is not always a positive environment for sharing creative work. @jasmine.s.higgins adds, “it’s always harder to feel your work is valuable online because there’s just so much poetry out there, and people won’t give you the time of day if they can find something better with just a few clicks. Really, art should just be about the work itself, but the internet makes it harder for our work to be relevant.”

The internet may be a difficult place to stand out, but navigated correctly, it can also be a useful outlet to encourage connectivity. The Instagram poets I spoke to often wrote about the struggles many young people go through. @jasmine.s.higgins says, “I’m inspired mostly by the intricacies of relationships in the digital age; how we view each other, the way porn affects sex, and why he liked that girl’s photo.” 

In this regard, poems on Instagram have the power to unite audiences and encourage creativity. Next time you are scrolling through your feed, think twice before disregarding them.