How Instagram Saved Poetry
With the rise of “Insta-poets,” Faith Hill and Karen Yuan wrote recently, today’s poets are no longer just writers—they’re entrepreneurs.
As a small-press poetry publisher, I don’t think Instagram has “saved” poetry. I think it is changing one facet of it: easily digestible, short and simple. There have always been haiku and other short forms in poetic cultures for people willing to read a book; it’s just that now, some (mostly young) people have noticed these mottos, aphorisms, or sayings in the visual, swift world of social media. Good for them, but it does nothing to advance the kinds of books I’m publishing. I think there’s room for both. Poetry will go on in many forms whether or not it sells millions of copies of books—and we all know sales don’t mean something has lasting value.
Your article “How Instagram Saved Poetry” operates on a number of false assumptions.
First, that poetry was dead and needed saving; second, that a social-media platform designed for quick image sharing could “save” something that, over centuries, has developed as an essentially reflective lyrical and narrative art form; and third, that poets’ side jobs have ever had anything essential to do with their work as writers. Writing poetry has never been about the money, and “brands” have been misinterpreting Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” since he wrote it. Just because insurance companies have realized a few “Insta-poets” actually do a pretty good job selling their products doesn’t mean brands suddenly have ownership of the poetic form.