What is ‘insta-poetry’? It’s more than simply posting a poem on Instagram. There’s a certain power in sharing any form of art online, where it can be accessed by anyone, shared by anyone, and commented on by anyone. The Instagram scroll also means that a few seconds is often all that your post can expect to pull from someone.
I’ve been able to ask my questions about Insta-poetry to some poets currently sharing their work on Instagram. In this post, they share what Insta-poetry means to them, the importance of online community, and the Instagram-poetry style.
What is Insta-poetry?
It is also a platform for getting your work out there. Jennae Cecelia (@jennaececelia) defines Insta-poetry as ‘a way for poets to get their writing out into the world in a way that is free to anyone’s opinions and liking’.
With that freedom of opinion, of course, come some negative connotations. Morgan Nikola-Wren (@morgannikolawren) describes Insta-Poetry as ‘a shining example of the poetry community’s resilience and perseverance…
‘I just love the fact that the phrase was originally coined by someone who was trying to make fun of poets who got their start on social media, and those poets just ran with it and turned the term into a hashtag/identity, one many people are now proud of.’
Sophia Elaine Hanson (@authorsehanson) also points to the more negative comments, ‘especially by people not in the community’, but believes that ‘it is a great way to share poetry. It has helped a lot of poets get their start’.
Insta-poetry can simply be characterised as poetry on Instagram, but it is also the art of putting out a message and making an impact on a reader in few words, for a few seconds. For Cheyenne Raine (@rainepoetry), Insta-poetry is about the impact your words make on the reader: ‘the writers that share have to really make an impact on someone in a few seconds, and, so, that’s what I believe Insta-poetry is. That tiny moment of words to hold someone still.’
Insta-Poetry and Reader-Base
Does sharing your poetry on Instagram mean that your readers mostly come from that social media platform? Jennae agreed that most of her readers originally came from her Instagram. Morgan similarly found that a lot of her readers find her work through the platform, emphasising the community that has been created as a result: ‘Instagram makes the relationship between writers and their readers so intimate. People can comment and tell me exactly how a poetry post made them feel, or we can just geek out together about what we’re currently reading. ‘
For Sophia, Instagram was actually a means of growing an audience further. ‘I did not start as an Insta-Poet. Instead, I used it to advertise my first chapbook of poetry hummingbird. Similarly, I am using it to advertise my upcoming full length collection soul like thunder.’
‘My readership has grown massively since I started posting my poems to Instagram. The same is true of my young adult books. Quotes, pictures, fanart, etc. are all great ways to draw readers in.’
The Insta-Poetry Community
Just as there is community between reader and writer on Instagram, there is a very active and supportive community amongst the poets sharing their work, which is an important part of the platform.
Cheyenne said: ‘i’m in the poetry community, which is a big shocker to me. i’ve been in it since the beginning, since i became friends with brittin oakman and moving along i was able to meet even more writers that i enjoyed and who enjoyed me…
‘i have so many poet’s phone numbers and they’ve all become such close and sweet friends to me!’
Sophia agreed: ‘Yes! I am quite close to Amanda Lovelace, Cyrus Parker, and Gretchen Gomez. I am also friends with Morgan Nikola-Wren, Anne Chivon, and several other poets in the community. I am lucky to have them not just as friends, but as supporters. They are my favorite part of the poetry community.’
Instagram-Poetry as a Style
Insta-Poetry has a certain style to it. It tends to lean on the shorter side, and often encapsulates a feeling or emotion in an immediate or sharp way. I was interested in whether being part of the Insta-Poetry community influenced the style or length of the poetry that these writers posted.
Morgan agrees that the length of her poetry changed as a result of sharing it online, though not the style. ‘I began challenging myself to write smaller, powerhouse pieces specifically for my posts. It’s really made me a lot more careful and deliberate about word choices and getting my messages across concisely, without rambling, which actually helps quite a bit in my long form poetry as well.’
Thinking of sharing poetry online as, in large part, about audience engagement, might also affect the way the the creator promotes presents their work. Jennae commented on the importance of creating something instant as affecting the style…
‘The reality is that most people want something quick when scrolling through Instagram. They aren’t going to want to stop and spend more than 15 seconds looking at your post. Instagram or any social media really, is filled with people who want instant gratification.’
Cheyenne, however, says that Instagram hasn’t really affected her style at all: ‘i write what i feel, whether it’s long or short. i’ll shrink the size if i have to, or separate the piece over multiple posts!’
What I sensed most from Morgan, Cheyenne, Jennae and Sophia’s answers, was that Instagram Poetry, in its (often) shorter, unique style, is making way for writers and creators to project their voice to large audiences, even if only for a few seconds. That this has not only formed a connection amongst poets themselves, but has created an instant dialogue between poet and reader, is a testament to the success of this powerful form of art in reaching those readers.
What are your thoughts on Insta-Poetry? Do you post, follow or interact with poetry online? Let’s discuss in the comments!
Thank you so much to Morgan Nikola-Wren, Cheyenne Raine, Sophia Elaine-Hanson and Jennae Cecelia, who answered all of my questions about Instagram poetry so thoughtfully. Their Instagram accounts and the Goodreads links to their books are all linked below, if you would like to check them out (I’ve read works from each of these wonderful women and would recommend them all).
☆Magic with Skin On
☆My Dearest Hurricane: Love and Things that Looked like It