“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion.” – John Keating (Robin Williams), Dead Poet’s Society.
In our digital age poetry is unappealing to the contemporary ear, unless in form of Yeezy or Drake. Poetry itself, imitates a passionate version of emotion that most choose not to try and understand. 30 years ago, it was commonplace to sit together and dictate cryptic lines – now, fast-paced consumerism has altered the romance in literature to pop culture very quickly, with the InstaPoets a saving grace.
As the years pass us by, and our lives come to focus on the social dictation of technology, the rise of the Instapoet is prominent. Instapoet, defined: A new-generation author of poetry (and some, desiderate book deals) that both inspires and heart-wrenches via social media – publishing to Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook with a following in the thousands upon thousands.
Wearing their hearts on their sleeves, InstaPoets embark on a lyrical journey to relate to their followers through love, loss and life lessons. In doing so, they achieve commercial success while igniting self-publishing’s coming of age in our digital landscape.
In 2013, Lang Leav, ‘The Girl Who Cries Wolf’, published her first collection of poetry Love & Misadventure online. From then, she has published Lullabies, and Memories, granting her a book deal with Writers House and a following of over one million across her social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, and of course, Instagram).
Leav sings whimsical, woeful verse. She takes her readers on a journey of losing and finding love, her words skillfully capturing the threads of hope and desperation in lust and heartbreak. All of her books remain in the top-10-selling love poetry category on Amazon – with her followers on social media privy to ‘first drafts’ of new prose as she is inspired.
Tyler Knott Gregson
Tyler Knott Gregson is a professional photographer and poet that accrued fame on Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter from as early as 2009. Gregson writes and posts a ‘Daily Haiku on Love’ and raw lines from his ‘Typewriter Series’ daily across his social media platforms.
Gregson’s first book, a collection of his Typewriter Series prose, Chasers Of The Light, is a national bestseller. Last year, he came out with a collection of haikus on love, titled All The Worlds Are Yours. Represented by Perigee, a division of Penguin Random House, his work is raw lyrical passion – taking his readers on a journey of magic in love, sorrow and life lessons.
Robert Macias, who writes by the alias R.M.Drake, is a lyrical genius with over 1.5 million followers across Instagram, and Twitter. Drake came to fame specifically through sharing excerpts on Instagram, and currently his book A Brilliant Madness is the 3rd best-selling book in Amazon’s love poetry category, while he is re-posted by the likes of the Kardashians and Ludacris.
Drake’s work is inspired by independence, love, heartache and following dreams. His poetry is simple and poignant – it hits home with every line. Drake has written five books: Beautiful Chaos, A Brilliand Madness, Black Butterfly, Spaceship: A collection of quotes for the misunderstood, and Science: The Stars in Me are the Stars in You. Just to make your day, Drake is expanding his repertoire – writing a short story piece for Nerve that will go live next week: watch this space.
The poet who sees the lyrical lessons of survival, abuse, femininity, love and loss, initially sparked attention in 2014, when Rupi Kaur began to mix her own written word with inspired illustrations. Posting these frequently to Instagram, the mixed medium work has welcomed 300 thousand followers to her Instagram, and more on Facebook and Twitter.
Kapur released her first bestselling book Milk and Honey last year, a collection of poetry about survival. She takes her readers on a journey of bitter moments, capturing moral clarity and the sweetness love can bring when you look closely enough. Speaking of her decision to publish, Kaur states on her website: “There was no market for poetry about trauma, abuse, loss, love and healing through the lens of a punjabi-sikh immigrant woman. So I decided to self publish. The book was a side effect. The act of publishing was an experience I undertook for the therapy it offered.” This, ultimately, speaks to her followers and what her poetry offers them.
Beau Taplin is an Australian-poet whose passionate prose has ignited a 300 thousand following on Instagram, growing every day on Facebook and Twitter. Taplin’s melting words are like reading secrets you didn’t know you knew, and feeling them all at once. Writing of love, distance, moments and memories, Taplin has released four self-published books, titled Buried Light, Playing With Fire, The Wild Heart, and Hunting Season. “I enjoy igniting little fires in my fellow human beings with words then printing those words on lots of paper and I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be allowed the opportunity to call that an occupation,” Taplin writes on his website. “Dance, cry, shout, laugh, howl at the moon, whatever – I just hope you find what you’re looking for.” You will.
We may still live in a digital world of snapping, gramming, tweeting and texting, but the InstaPoet shows us that human passion for raw, emotive poetry is still alight. Not only are they defying the subversion of the typical narcissism alluded to the growth of social media, they are connecting and moving their followers while achieving commercial success.
Whether it is because we want to read something that taps into our innate emotions on a level we can’t explain or warrant in our technological age, who knows? The point is that each individual, whether they are scrolling through an Instagram feed or flicking through pages of self-published prose, interprets a piece of poetry in their own way, and rather, the words resonate with each life in unique, meaningful ways. And that, in itself, is poetry.
“To have great poets, there must be great audiences.” – Walt Whitman.