The rise of the Insta-poet
By: Jessy Baer
We’ve been deeply questioning our relationship with social media lately. The infatuation phase has worn off and it feels like almost every day a thought-leader is publishing an article shedding light on some new facet of it’s insidious nature - it’s as addictive as gambling, robs us of precious real world moments and pits us against one another in us vs. them battles instead of truly connecting us. The pendulum has truly swung from one side to the other, and quickly.
However, while social media is new, these battles around the adoption of new technology are not. The next phase of the relationship will likely mirror cycles of the past and swing us to a less extreme, healthier middle place. We’ll create boundaries and regulations around social media that will enable us to use it in a manner that’s more generative and less depleting. Glimmers of this future are starting to pop up already. A recent Atlantic article is shedding light on how Instagram is saving poetry. The design of the platform, which incentivizes the bite-size lyric and briefly delivered quote, lends itself nicely to poetic prose. And there’s research to back this. According to a new study 12 of the top 20 best-selling poets last year were Insta-poets, who combined their written work with shareable posts for social media and nearly half of poetry books sold in the U.S. last year were written by them. Indeed Insta-poet Rupi Kaur’s first collection, milk & honey, has sold 3.5 million copies, stealing the position of best-selling poetry book from The Odyssey. Poetry readership is also spiking as social media makes poets more accessible and discoverable. This year 28 million Americans are reading poetry—the highest percentage of poetry readership in almost two decades.
Brands like Nike and Gucci have already begun incorporating prose from these Insta-poets into marketing campaigns. And there’s an even larger opportunity for brands to partner with niche groups using social media platforms in generative ways (Insta-poets being one of them) in order to model what a future of healthy social media consumption could look like.