How social media is changing our view on poetry
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Some people fall in love with poetry, but most of us get the obligatory school “poet package” and move on.
Everyone will therefore be familiar with the great historical poets like Keats, Wordsworth, and Blake. Yet people often define what poetry is and what it is meant to look like based on them.
Today, the internet has turned the concept of poetry around completely. Where it used to be a genre mostly for academics and a tool for teachers to help students develop analytical skills, it is now something that is part of everyday life.
In the past, becoming a professional poet involved getting published in a magazine, then receiving recognition and finally getting a collection in bookshops. Without being published, you didn’t have a chance to share.
But now, the internet has democratised poetry, enabling amateur poets to share their words, too. Platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr are crawling with amateur poets and their words quickly and effectively reach their target audience.
This also works for established poets. You see modern poets like Rupi Kaur and Tyler Knott Gregson using Instagram to share their words.
However, for those who still aspire to be a professional poet, the internet has also given them a new way to get in contact with publishers. Now, instead of writing a letter, aspiring poets can contact publishers directly on Twitter and have access to a whole new range of resources.
It is important to note that poetry isn’t only something to be read. Poetry is an oral tradition and we see this in the lyrics that artists write for music today. Artists can share their music through YouTube and Spotify and even provide links to the lyrics on platforms such as Genius, which is also used as a literature guide for students.
Millennials have experienced poetry differently to the generation before them. Previously, poetry was something you had to go looking for in bookshops, libraries, or your parents’ bookshelves. Now, you will find poetry even when you’re not looking for it, often when scrolling down your timeline on social media.
A poem doesn’t take long to read and, if it is well written, it resonates – and this makes micro-poetry, on sites such as Twitter which limits characters to 140, especially impactful. The internet gives people the opportunity to share, privately or publicly, their thoughts and develop their personality and aura as a poet.
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In the post-digital age, the way we read and think about poetry has changed irreversibly for professional poets, publishers, and amateur poets. There is a beauty in the sharing of poetry for free, and social media is a big part of making that possible.