Social Media Revitalizes Poetry Movement

Annette Ungermann, Staff Writer

In the 21st century, many forms of art have increased their online presence because of the accessibility of social media platforms. Specifically, poetry has experienced a rebirth in recent years, gaining popularity with a younger audience; its relative brevity is perfect for the short attention spans of today.

An example of this would be the popular works of young poet Rupi Kaur, whose book “milk and honey”, published in 2015, is a New York Times bestseller, having sold over 1 million copies. Kaur has amassed over 1 million followers combined on social media sites Twitter and Instagram.

Common themes in her works describe struggles with love, abuse, and femininity, in brief, deeply personal and confessional poems that are often reposted and shared on social media platforms. Kaur started sharing her poetry first on Tumblr, gaining immense popularity.

Poets of today might not follow the traditional path of an artist in years past, but adapting is absolutely essential in increasing the relevance of one’s art with a younger generation. Art is meant to be accessible, and meant to be shared with others, and while it initially may not be profitable, this mass accessibility that social media provides is a tool that poets and artists of the past could certainly not use to their advantage.

Poetry’s connection with media and performance has helped lead to its recent upsurge; the rise of poetic performance through rap, hip-hop, and communication media in more recent decades has helped to interweave poetic expression into daily life and popular culture.

Artist Jay-Z says of his own work, and of rap in general, that it is poetry in his memoir and autobiography Decoded. “I hope readers take away from this book that rap is poetry. It’s thought-provoking; there’s thought behind it,” he said. “There’s great writing in rap as well. You never hear rappers being compared for like the greatest rap writers of all time.”

The assumption that poetry can only be poetry if written on a page ignores the fact that writing in verse of any kind shares the qualities of this unique form of art.

Renewed relevance of poetry can also be partially credited to how poetry, as an art form, has been immensely diversified in how it’s taught to students. In the past millennia, poetry education was comprised of poetry written by mostly white men that presented a very narrow view of life. Through opening up poetry education and letting students interact with more diverse voices, it showcases an array of racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity in writing, making it relevant to more young peoples’ lives.

English classes in modern day expose students to not only the voices of white, western poets like Shakespeare, but they introduce poetry written in the styling of a variety of different cultures, like the Japanese haiku. Exposing students to a variety of poetic voices ensures that the perspectives we’re aware of are much less narrow in scope.

When poetry is shared, as with any art form, it serves as a medium to tell a story from a variety of unique perspectives. The art of poetry has even morphed into the art of performance, through slam poetry. Normally just written word, through slam poetry, poets can cultivate and share their stories the way they’re intended to be shared: with feeling, and with a live audience.

Nonprofit organization “Get Lit” is a Los Angeles based program that works to get students engaged in slam poetry. The organization works with local schools and introduces students to a variety of different classic poems, then it has students write a response and present it orally. Programs such as these help to engage students with poetry and spoken word to make it fun and applicable, and enrich writing skills.

Poetry has its roots in spoken word, in the times before written language, and poetry as spoken word is a welcome return to its roots. Poets can use both their own words and their own voices to express themselves personally, in a medium that is personal in its nature.

Various social media sites even serve as platforms for young writers to express themselves more briefly, again, giving the poet an active audience. Poetry is experiencing a rebirth and revitalization though slam poetry and even social media, showing how even the most classic art forms can adapt and improve in the digital age.