Poetry is no longer bound to the confinement of books since it has found a place on social media. Instagram in particular is becoming a platform where artists and poets share their work, and for some, it can lead to prosperous careers sometimes resulting in book deals and influence.
Rupi Kaur is the most discernible of these social media artists, with more than two million followers on Instagram and with two of her books topping the best sellers list on Amazon.
Kaur’s success has encouraged other poets, including author B. Abbott, who began posting to Instagram under the handle “High Poets Society” in fall 2014. He has since gained over 240,000 followers on Instagram and published two books, “High Poets Society” and “Paper Planes.”
“I never would have guessed I would have a hundred followers, nevermind a couple hundred thousand,” Abbott said. “I never would have thought anyone would have liked it as much as they do.”
Abbott had been writing poetry for over 13 years before he began sharing his work on Instagram. Poems once meant for only his girlfriend’s eyes could be seen by all on social media.
K.Y. Robinson took a different approach. Her self-published book, “The Chaos of Longing,” has sold more than 20,000 copies. Even after self-publishing, Robinson was still taking the more traditional route of sending book proposals to publishers, and eventually Andrew McMeel accepted and released an expanded edition of her poetry collection.
“When the self-published edition was released in 2016, I didn’t have a significant online following. I had about 400-500 followers,” Robinson said in an email. “One of my poems was posted on a popular poetry account and went viral with nearly 5,000 likes … Social media has definitely increased my visibility, and I probably wouldn’t have found much success without it.”
Even with the instant gratification that comes with a like on Instagram, their work does not only rely on the validation they get from engagement on their accounts.
“It only takes a few seconds to press ‘like.’ After their attention is captured, you have to back it up with your art outside of the realm of social media,” Robinson said. “You can be an artist with a massive following online but have poor reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. In the end, book reviews have a lasting effect and speak louder than social media aesthetics.”
Abbott shares Robinson’s sentiments, agreeing there are different metrics of success. Whether their art is recognized through awards, academically or with a large social media audience, there is still a stage to share their work.
“Social media is the new open mic night. Anyone can do it. You don’t have to have an agent to get a book deal anymore,” Abbott said.
Cal State Fullerton fourth-year theater major Ivy Creel shares poetry on her personal account and feels a sense of community when posting. Creel decided to create a seperate account to share her poetry because she wanted her work to be viewed by those seeking to find it.
“People need to relate to something – they can find somebody who shares their art on Instagram, or any social media platform, and feel like they know them personally and feel supported by them,” Creel said.
Another CSUF student, Sarah Ellsworth, a fourth-year acting major shares her art, including poetry, watercolor paintings and guitar playing on her Instagram page. She finds social media helps artists gain exposure and find their audience.
“It’s been a pretty fruitful experience of people saying ‘great job, keep going.’ It’s encouraging to me when I get a response,” Ellsworth said. “It has blown up as a way to network around the world, get connected and get your content out there.”