The legitimacy of “Instapoetry”

The legitimacy of “Instapoetry” has long been fiercely debated: but the rise of the term has sparked a fragmented critical conversation.

Often described as “Instapoets”, there are several writers sharing short fragments online to enormous followings. The biggest of these audiences belongs to 26-year-old Rupi Kaur: the author of two poetry collections, she has 3.5 million Instagram followers and has received by far the most media attention of any Instapoet. On her Instagram account, she alternates beautiful pictures of herself in elegant outfits with short poems written entirely in lower-case; many young, attractive poets have followed this winning template. Her most popular poetry post reads simply “fall/in love/with your solitude”, accompanied by one of her simplistic line drawings. Others include “you’ve touched me/without even/touching me” and “she was music/but he had his ears cut off”.

Kaur understands the importance of a visual brand: she credits her degree in rhetoric, media and professional communication with teaching her “design, marketing, creative writing and branding”. She employs the same stylist as Selena Gomez (the second-most-followed woman on Instagram), while an interview with New York Magazine painted Kaur as someone who thinks about “the spacing and the page and the colour” of her work as much as the poetry itself, analysing how different designs perform “across media – to different sizes, to posters, to digital”.

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