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What is Instapoetry and Why It is Becoming Popular?

For those who find traditional poetry very intimidating and its language complex or even forbidding, Instapoetry opens up new possibilities for enjoyment. Instapoems are usually brief poetic lines shared on social media. Rupi Kaur, the Canadian instapoet has 4.5 million followers on Instagram. Milk and Honey, a collection of her verse published in 2015, became a New York Times bestseller.

Dr Veronica Alfano of Faculty of Arts at Macquarie University has been following the developments in instapoetry very closely.  Those who find Wordsworth, Yeats or Shakespeare difficult to understand are instantly attracted to instapoetry. Rupi Kaur's work was criticised for being shallow, self-involved and unsophisticated. 

Instapoets have been criticised for reducing an art form to a viral commodity. Instapoetry is more appealing as they appear more real life, touch the emotional life of people than traditional poetry they learnt in school. According to Dr Veronica Alfano, instapoetry should not be seen in opposition to more traditional verse. 

i do not want to have you
to fill the empty parts of me
i want to be full on my own
i want to be so complete 
i could light a whole city 
and then

i want to have you
cause the two of us combined
could set it on fire

-rupi kaur.    

Milk and Honey is taught at Macquarie University to students. They are encouraged to look for nuance and complexity in verses that initially seemed straightforward or transparent. Students were motivated when discussing about Kaur's works whether they loved or heated it. The studetns could also recognise continuities between Instapoetry and more canonical writing- in the apparent simplicity of Christina Rossetti's religious poems and helped students develop a broader love of verse. "Instapoetry is not for everyone, nor need it be. But far from signalling the death of poetry, it can show just how rich, varied and vital this tradition still is," according to Dr Veronica Alfano. (Source: The Light House, Macquarie University, 24 March, 2023) 

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