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"Tumblr" Poetry

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Fri May 15, 2020 6:40 pm
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AvantCoffee says...

Just dropping by because I watched this awesome mini documentary on "insta-poetry" that definitely offers a further perspective in this discussion. The video description is as follows:
#poetry explores how poets have used Instagram to share their poetry with their readers, the backlash against online creators, how the platform has allowed women to prosper in a new environment, and why millions of people are following poets online…. can Instagram make poetry cool again?

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I found the feminist aspects of insta-poetry brought up within the video to be interesting, and it's overall given me an altered and certainly a more positive perspective on what "Tumblr" poetry or insta-poetry is doing.

I have a Tumblr and see the types of poetry around, and most of it is too simple and/or cliché for my taste, but every now and then there is a poem that resonates with me on some level (often at the level of a single-layered image or meaning, and not often profound for that reason, but still valuable all the same). I do feel that at the very least, insta-poetry is doing more good than harm in the world.

(Whoops looks like I'm sticking around for a bit)
On the argument of insta-poetry creating a lower poetic standard for young aspiring poets to be influenced by and follow—there is truth to that influence fs. Though alongside that influence (and going with a comment from the above video), it's the online accessibility of insta-poetry through social media that can get young people curious about poetry in the first place when they otherwise wouldn't read poetry, and can even encourage them to seek out further poetry offline.

There will be impressionable young people who will mimic insta-poetry and not write the most technically impressive poems as a result—but like, it was that style or 'genre' of poetry that got them passionate in the first place? You don't feel compelled to create poetry unless you're inspired by your poetic influences, I feel?

Young aspiring novelists, not uncommonly, start off with writing sub-par fan fiction or Wattpad stories i'm calling myself out here before they grow into other writing and/or explore technique more consciously, with an attitude for growth. I feel like insta-poetry could be a similar helpful influence for new poets and poetry-discoverers in this sense? And for those impressionable poetic youth who don't expand outside the style of insta-poetry—their poetry style still has an audience and merit within the insta-poetry world. If their poetry makes an impact and is popular with that audience, who's to say it isn't valid?

My rule of thumb with all this kind of new cultural stuff is that if it has value with a sizeable amount of people (in this case a good hunk of social media users, mainly from younger generations, mainly female) then it has merit culturally and can't really be discredited because of that, because at the end of the day there are a lot of people who like reading insta-poetry and will support it. It's adapted to the social media age more than any other type of poetry is really as able.

As for 'Is it poetry?' Aha. Hahahaha
(Honestly really worth watching this youtube vid for laughs: c:
No okay but in all seriousness, I would say yes. The documentary video talks about how this new restructuring movement of poetry is simply looking for different attributes to what came before, prioritising emotional impact and popularity over literary merit. It's a new poetry culture that, like it or not, is making HUGE waves (when I think of Rupi Kaur), and has embraced insta-poetry as poetry.

Also really maybe worth noting: insta-poetry appeals to a type of audience that has never before been very engaged in poetry (the documentary vid above said half of insta-poetry followers are college educated, and half not—with that latter percentage being pretty significant). Poetry has historically been elusive and elitist, in that it appeared to require higher learning to understand, and privilege to have the time to pursue. Insta-poetry breaks down both of those barriers, and maybe similar to how African American literature has been discredited for improper use of English (and is challenged for that in lit studies idk apparently I learnt things once), maybe the traditional poetry lens is bias towards a privileged point of view.

Final thing on 'yes it is poetry': I would say the majority of insta-poems are poetic enough to be poems. They are simple—sometimes very (very) simple—but that's how it be and I've personally found that they can hold their own when approached uniquely to other poetry.

That said, I can sometimes feel that some insta-poetry teeters closer to statements with enjambment than to poetry, so maybe that's worth challenging? I'm such a contradiction because subjectively I'll say that and then go and buy The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump, which is literally a cut-up of Trump's tweets and transcripts reordered poetically. For me personally, I think it's the felt lack of poetic substance in some insta-poems added with the lack of substance in their outside context that make me question them as poems. The Trump poems, although not conventional poetry at all, at least have an interesting context outside of them that give the 'poems' creative and interpretive meaning, similar to the ideas behind Shey's Foray: A Collection of Absurdist Poetry (which is great btw). For me it's about where I can go with a poem, where it takes me, and some insta-poems are questionable for me in that.

I'd be really open and interested to hear more thoughts on whether some insta-poetry isn't poetry, and if so, if it should be categorised as something else. I've loved reading all the previous discussion on this topic!! ~

If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.
— René Descartes

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Thu Nov 19, 2020 2:30 am
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EditorAndPerks says...

I think "Tumblr" poetry honestly has its own charm -- and I don't view this as something super popular despite what claim to be popular beliefs, as I've seen plenty of out-of-context Shakespeare quotes compared to heavily enjambed poems. Of course, I'm not currently subscribed to many poetry blogs, but even when I was before, it seemed like there was a fine collection of poems and quotes.

So, I might not want to buy a "new-modern-tumblr-esque" poetry book, but I've enjoyed plenty of these creations over the years, and may have even written some of my own. I think poetry is meant to allow for standards and the usual generalities to grow and stretch a bit to allow for interpretation and imagination further than straight rhyme schemes or rhythm. I myself could not write a good rhythm for the life of me.
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