Words by Gayle Dy
with your solitude
Would you consider this as poetry? Or did any of these thoughts below reflect those of yours?
“But it’s so simple and surface-level.”
“They’re basically just cut-up sentences with excessive use of line breaks.”
“The writing is so lazy.”
“Since when have quotes been considered poetry?”
These are just some of the most common reasons why a lot of people dislike the new wave of contemporary poetry better known as Instagram poetry, or instapoetry, greatly popularized by the works of Rupi Kaur, Nikita Gill, and R.M. Drake. Many even go so far as to say that it isn’t or shouldn’t even be referred to as poetry, for putting someone like the said latter next to Plath and Shakespeare would cause eternal unrest in the literary world.
But didn’t it ever occur to anyone what a burden it is to be comparing the poets of our time to the poets of the Renaissance and Romantic Period? We are living in completely different worlds from them. And yet, somehow, we are still under pressure to be the Next Great Dickinson or Keats when we really should’ve been trying to be the Next Great Us.
And that’s the thing I love about instapoetry–it isn’t trying to pass off as something else; it’s creating a new brand for itself that is accessible to everyone through its bite-sized, yet punch-packed pieces that always seem to find us on days when we need to hear them the most.
Because that’s what poetry is and should always be–a limitless concept. We often forget that writing is a subjective craft and that by trying to objectify it, we end up wrecking its beauty and essence, which is to express, feel, perceive; and as a result, to find, miraculously, that we connect and even resonate with someone. And I think that this essence is lost on us every time we say that ‘this piece is more poetic than the other,’ or ‘this is too _____ to be poetry.’
READ ALSO: Is Instagram poetry real poetry?
In the end, different genres appeal to different people for different reasons, and instapoetry, whether you like it or not, is part of that. It’s okay to dislike a certain genre, but to refuse to even acknowledge it as a whole is completely disrespectful.
So, to welcome and destigmatize instapoetry, Here are 3 Reasons Why Instapoetry Is Not That Bad:
1. It has opened up a gate for more conversation about controversial topics.
Rupi Kaur is notorious for her jolting and one might even dare say, unsettling poems that tackle much on femininity, sexism, sexual abuse, and empowerment. One of her most controversial themes is one that happens to be a taboo topic in many societies–menstruation. For centuries, menstruation has been viewed as an impure and unsanitary process, and therefore, is not widely acknowledged in countries such as Africa and India. Fortunately, this never stopped Kaur from trying to break the stigma:
But the battle was still far from over. Do you remember this picture posted by Kaur on her Instagram a few years back?
View this post on Instagram
thank you @instagram for providing me with the exact response my work was created to critique. you deleted a photo of a woman who is fully covered and menstruating stating that it goes against community guidelines when your guidelines outline that it is nothing but acceptable. the girl is fully clothed. the photo is mine. it is not attacking a certain group. nor is it spam. and because it does not break those guidelines i will repost it again. i will not apologize for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak. when your pages are filled with countless photos/accounts where women (so many who are underage) are objectified. pornified. and treated less than human. thank you. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ this image is a part of my photoseries project for my visual rhetoric course. you can view the full series at rupikaur.com the photos were shot by myself and @prabhkaur1 (and no. the blood. is not real.) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ i bleed each month to help make humankind a possibility. my womb is home to the divine. a source of life for our species. whether i choose to create or not. but very few times it is seen that way. in older civilizations this blood was considered holy. in some it still is. but a majority of people. societies. and communities shun this natural process. some are more comfortable with the pornification of women. the sexualization of women. the violence and degradation of women than this. they cannot be bothered to express their disgust about all that. but will be angered and bothered by this. we menstruate and they see it as dirty. attention seeking. sick. a burden. as if this process is less natural than breathing. as if it is not a bridge between this universe and the last. as if this process is not love. labour. life. selfless and strikingly beautiful.
It had been taken down by the social media site twice because it went against one of their community guidelines, particularly its strict prohibition of sharing anything linked to sexual acts, violence, and nudity–all of which clearly have no relation whatsoever to menstruation.
Fueled by her indignation, Kaur took a stand on Facebook, saying, “Thank you Instagram for providing me with the exact response my work was created to critique. You deleted my photo twice stating that it goes against community guidelines. I will not apologize for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak. When your pages are filled with countless photos/accounts where women (so many who are underage) are objectified, pornified, and treated less than human. thank you.”
Her post, which went viral almost immediately, made Instagram reverse its decision and reinstall the picture back into her account after just one day! Kaur, of course, didn’t claim the glory all for herself:
All hail Rupi Kaur, queen of Instapoetry!
2. It serves as encouragement that we don’t need to write like Shakespeare in order to compose poetry.
Any ordinary writer (including myself) would gladly concede to having underestimated himself at least once after realizing that his poems are not exactly Shakespearian. And that’s okay.
Remember that poetry is yours for the making.
It doesn’t have to hide behind metaphors or have a traditional rhyme scheme in order to be beautiful. It just needs to have heart in it, and instapoetry is full of that.
3. It’s more universal and accessible.
Lang Leav and Rupi Kaur are often targets of criticism for their minimalist and straightforward writing style. When asked about it, the writers answered that it was written that way on purpose, so as to avoid any unnecessary confusion with the readers, much like what Kaur felt when she had to dissect poems layer-by-layer in her poetry classes.
And this, I believe, is what sets instapoetry apart from the rest–what you see is what you get, and the simplicity still clicks. Because sometimes all we need is a short reminder that we are beautiful, or that we’re going to be okay on days when we have no one to tell us so.
These bits of sweet poetry and prose are definitely not for everyone, but one can’t deny how even a twelve-word-story is enough to stir your heart.
What do you think of instapoetry? Let us know your take on it in the comments!