A whole new generation has taken to Instagram to create and share poetry, with innovative, playful and moving poems emerging from the medium. To show how vibrant and relevant this new form is the National Poetry Library has curated the very first #instapoetry exhibition in the world, with over 1,000 entries being received after a call for submissions.
Jessica Atkinson, the National Poetry Library’s Digital Co-ordinator, and Poetry Librarian Chris McCabe have chosen four of the works on show for this blog post and explain what it is that made them stand out.
We’d never have expected to find poems written with made-up forms on Instagram but poems of four words are everywhere. In the 1960s the Scottish artist and poet Ian Hamilton Finlay invented the one word poem. How can a poem be a poem with just one word? The answer, Finlay showed, was in having a long title before it. Tom Pickard took on the challenge in his poem ‘Advice to a young poet’. The poem’s one word was simply ‘moisturise’. Four words is a perfect form for the small square frame that Instagram offers.
The one we chose by @eryn.faris for the exhibition suggests how we can use social media to reflect our insecurities back in a way that can be turned into a positive. As Bill Murray has said: ‘Social media is training us to compare our lives, instead of appreciating everything we are.’ Instapoems are a perfect medium turning our gaze back towards this wonder.
In my quest for finding apps that would help with mapping my creativity and lay a foundation for the organized writer in me, I found WriteHackr online magazine. I thumbed through the free magazine that is offered to reel you into a paid subscription and opted to buy one magazine in a cautious journey through this intriguing literary guide.
It was there I came across an article written by Bryan Collins called “What New Writers Need to Know About Fear”. At first, I almost thumbed past it with the thought that I did not fear writing, I just couldn’t find my beginning, middle, and end. But my eyes caught the largely placed lettering of his first topic point, 1. I don’t know where to start.. Holy shit, you either? It was that one simple sentence, that breakthrough moment when I realized that I am not the only one who has this issue. There was this pivotal moment in my writing experience where I actually felt an ease wash over me and as I continued reading through his article, I ended it with that ah-ha moment that I am a writer and this lack of content was only a starting point that most writers have to overcome before they fill endless pages of mind altering words.
I often would say to myself, and anyone that would listen, that I was going to write everyday, only to fail at my own personal goal. Mr. Collins offered an alternative to this, start with merely five minutes a day, then work to ten, twenty and so on. I can do this, I spend more than five minutes a day in my little cubicle thinking about writing and everything I want to write about.
He shared his own struggles, his own failures with writing, and the need for deadlines from others to even finish his created works. Wow! I could relate wholeheartedly, I mean was he actually writing about me? I have four journals, none of which I have yet to completely fill and often do not write in continuously. There are months between entries, some due to lack of effort and other times a constant switching between each journal. I’ve yet to determine why I do this, only that there is an inability to finish. I can write the meat of the story I wish to tell, but to start and end it fails to meet with the end of my pen.
While I’m still nowhere near writing a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, or even something you would find on the New York Times bestseller list, I found Mr. Collins article to be a something of an old pirate’s map that would lead me to the very treasure I was searching for. I had to step back and analyze what it was that was keeping me from this passion that burned deep inside me. I had never looked at it as fear, but atlas, it was exactly the answer to all my mind poking and desperate inner pleas to write something, anything.
His admission that he was nobody in point 2. Who am I to Write.. was a personal hit home for me. Through all my self-help reading from other published writers, none offered this real life view that writers face. That one question we turn over and over in our head, the very thought of “why am I worthy of writing?” He was forthcoming in the rejection he received and that there would be rejection throughout the career of a writer, but it was up to you to give yourself permission to write. Whether you write for the purpose of publication, to get people involved through a blog, or even your daily journal, you are a writer and your start has to begin somewhere.
So where do I start? Mr. Collins offered great advice in finding writing workshops, starting a blog, and entering contests. I admit, I have a blog that is lacking the attention it deserves and that must be a change I make. Only I can determine my destiny; not everyone will like what I have to say. I will find rejection many times along the way, but if I give up on my dreams then I’ve given my future to others who may not see the true value in me.
I write for me, first and foremost. It’s a chance to express myself creatively and process the twists and turns my life seems to take; to sort through how I feel about a particular event, person in my life, or find some peace of mind when my life seems especially hectic. I write in the hopes that my experiences, failures, successes, and internal or external struggles will help someone or let them know they are not alone.
I wish I could forget you, erase the memories
I trusted against my own advice, my best friend, gave you all of me
A keeper of my secrets, only to watch you turn your back
With little wordless meanings, you ended the track
Not a single word, not even closure
I’m left here in wonder and you were the one who broke me