Written by Brandi Carnes
Rupi Kaur’s latest release, The Sun and Her Flowers, is only the second book in the young writer’s career, but it’s already among the most popular works on the shelves. Kaur’s explosive career, along with similar writers such as Atticus and Lang Leav, are at the forefront of a literary revolution. The nature of the poetry community is undergoing an era of change, and maybe not for the best. Instapoets, self-made writers who publish their work on social media, are the faces of a culture which both revitalizes and reduces the ability of readers to connect with poetry.
By sharing minimal, bite-sized chunks of words online, these writers are no doubt able to make literature accessible to a wider array of readers. But the posts are oversimplified in their attempts to reach crowds. The quality of content is often sacrificed for abstractions and generalizations that speak to no specific feeling, but can be synthesized by anyone. Readers can connect with the subject matter, but are deprived of sensory experiences and depth. For example, Kaur’s writes in her second book, “i could be anything / in the world / but I wanted to be his.” Spoken in simple language and broken by enjambment, no original thoughts are provided. Instead, Kaur regurgitates clichés that were told countless times before making it to the page.
Poetry is evolving to keep up with changing ways in which we consume and interact with information. Many established writers have voiced their frustrations with a form that promotes writers based on popularity rather than merit. Media overload causes us to like or love whatever content can grab us immediately as we scroll, and has resulted in a school of writers all fighting for digital fame. I’ll admit that I’m even guilty of mimicking pop poetry. Though plenty of people all across social media have been introduced to poetry because of its newfound accessibility, is this poetry worth sharing if it isn’t meaningful? We must ground ourselves with works that allow us to explore familiar feelings instead of just recognizing them. We must be provoked and challenged.