Poetry in motion: Social media revives ancient art - GulfToday

Poetry in motion: Social media revives ancient art

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A screengrab taken from the Instagram page of Nikita Gill shows examples of her poetry. AFP

Eighteen-year-old Londoner Danique Bailey is one of a new generation of poets using social media to revive the art.

The teenager was among the 100 winners of last year's Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, an international competition of 6,000 11- to 17-year-olds from 83 countries.

She was rewarded for a mischievous ode to the plantain fruit.

"Social media made a lot more people interested in poetry, including myself," she said, calling it a "really fun and satisfying way to express yourself in a short amount of space."

Around 1.3 million poetry books were sold last year, a 12-percent increase over the previous year, its figures show.

Two thirds of the buyers were aged under 34.

"Of course there are long poems, but mainly, poems are short and it works really, really well to read on a phone, to swap around, to read, to find on social media," she added.

Instapoets

Her group's research found that Instagram was often the place that people were first introduced to poetry.

Indian-born Canadian Rupi Kaur, 26, is one of the stars of this platform, boasting 3.7 million subscribers.

Her collection, "Milk and Honey", which combines poetry, prose and illustrations, has grown in popularity in Britain, driving overall poetry sales.

More visual

Young fans often set up poem playlists that they listen to on their phones and tablets which they also use to search for and share new material, she said.

The National Poetry Library in London has already attempted to ride the wave, last year holding the first-ever exhibition devoted to poetry on Instagram.

"There's a big audience in Instagram poetry but we were overwhelmed with the submissions" from budding poets, National Poetry Librarian Chris McCabe said.

"The language is often much simpler than you would get in a traditional poem. And it's much more visual as well," he said.

It is a "totally new way of how an audience and the poet engage with each other," he added.

Makes an impact

Instagram sensation Nikita Gill, 32, explained how she used the medium, telling AFP that she normally posts "very few lines of poetry... and it immediately makes an impact."

The British-Indian author of "Great Goddesses", a collection of poetry and prose exploring myths and legends, said this new way of communicating "dispels that notion about poetry that you can only read poetry if you've got a literature degree."

She puts the success down to the idea that "it's really moving when someone shares something really personal with you".

And she encouraged aspiring poets to "not be afraid" and get writing.

Agence France-Presse