SOUTHBANK CENTRE Poetry Selection Article


Tuesday, June 19, 2018 – 10:50

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.

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