With the risk of sounding like the pretentious asshole most people take me for, I need to say this: what the hell happened to poetry? Why are so many mediocre works being praised for genius when they read just like inspirational Pinterest quotes? How is that poetry?
I know, I know. Poetry is dead. I’ve heard it. But somehow, Instagram and Tumblr managed to rake its ashes together into a heap and breathed stale life back into a deflated form.
The thing is, poetry is not dead, and it never really needed this lazy, instant-gratification style of writing.
You know the type I’m referring to. It’s the kind that takes dramatic, relatable sentence and enjambs it: “I felt alone / the moment / you entered / my room…” (Source: Me, two seconds ago.)
Sorry, Rupi. Sorry, Lang.
The point is, there are still actual good poets out there still. Take Ada Limon, who recently published “Killing Methods.” (Look it up. it’s incredible.)
Here’s where I’m going to mention how conflicted I am. I love that poetry is popular, again. I love that people are finding words they relate to. I love that Rupi Kaur made a book of poems find its slot on the New York Times Bestseller list.
However, the fact that this style of poetry, which Maybe only Rupi Kaur can pull off, has started a bad, lazy trend in poetry where people think they can get famous off of writing lazy, forgettable passages by appealing to the laziness of a feed-scrolling reader. Most of these poems are short and to the point, which has a certain strength, but require little thought. They break every rule of “show, don’t tell.” What troubles me is that nearly every volume of poetry I pick up that is not a reputable journal is filled with this lazy style.
This bad poetry somehow wound up as the most popular form of poetry. But why? The key is in its accessibility. It’s easy to write, and it’s easy to read. Looking at these poems, we know what they say because they just come out and say it instead of weaving intricate metaphors into the poem. PLus, you don’t have to read books or take classes on how to decrypt this kind of poetry.
We should take this time to ask ourselves what poetry actually is. Poetry is not just words. Good poetry is emotion embodied. Poetry reaches out and touches people. It makes an impact, it facilitates change. It is love, it is a critique, it is
And that is exactly what this instant-just-add-filters-style does.
So, despite my own reservations, I’d say these poets are geniuses. I may never like their work, I may still consider them hacks, but they know how to work a crowd, they know how to reach people. If my friend gets shivers when she reads a poem by Rupi Kaur, that’s a success for Rupi.
Whether we read them or not, let’s raise a glass to the lazy genius of insta-poetry. They’re only a reflection of what we’ve become.