March 26, 2019

In Defense of Instagram Poetry

“When he was 31 years old, Robert Macias was working as an art director for the TV and digital media company Univision in its “content creation facility” in Miami. Macias, the son of Colombian parents and a graduate who majored in digital communication and media, oversaw projects in marketing and adver-tising. He worked with brands including McDonalds and Kellogg’s, creating “visually compelling and engaging interactive experiences for the web”.

Now, you’re more likely to know Macias as r.m. drake, the New York Times-bestselling poet with 1.9 million followers on Instagram. He has published 14 collections of poetry, has a number of celebrity followers, and his poems have been repeatedly shared by the Kardashians. While working at Univision, Macias wrote in his spare time. In 2012, he started sharing his work on Instagram – taking short excerpts, typing them on to handmade paper with his 1940s Royal typewriter in lower case, and signing off with “r.m. drake”. He would photograph the page and post the result, such as: “the best kind/of humans are/the ones who/stay”. By the end of 2014, he had over half a million followers and quit his job to write full time.

Macias is not alone. Often described as “Instapoets”, there are several writers sharing short fragments online to enormous followings. The biggest of these audiences belongs to 26-year-old Rupi Kaur: the author of two poetry collections, she has 3.5 million Instagram followers and has received by far the most media attention of any Instapoet. On her Instagram account, she alternates beautiful pictures of herself in elegant outfits with short poems written entirely in lower-case; many young, attractive poets have followed this winning template. Her most popular poetry post reads simply “fall/in love/with your solitude”, accompanied by one of her simplistic line drawings. Others include “you’ve touched me/without even/touching me” and “she was music/but he had his ears cut off”.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"THE CAPTURE of the last territory controlled by the Islamic State on Saturday was far from a final victory over the movement, as U.S. commanders and diplomats were careful to emphasize."

"How a Gay Teen, an Internet Nazi, and a Late-Night Rendezvous Turned to Tragedy. When self-loathing meets the new age of online extremism."

"Benjamin Netanyahu ignored the intelligence operations of Beijing and Moscow for too long. Now, the Israeli government is finally paying attention, but it could be too late."

"Former Nick Jr. kids are now reckoning with this all-grown-up intrepid explorer, whose obstacles are a lot bigger than Swiper the Fox. And that is a hard pill to swallow."

"At the end of last week, the three-month Treasury bills' yield rose above the yield for 10-year Treasuries for the first time since 2007, prompting warnings that the U.S. is headed for recession later this year or in early 2020."

"A team of researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology attempted to answer some questions about voting with the help of artificial intelligence (AI)."

"The experts I spoke with all said that the internet had changed the way conspiracies spread, but conspiracies, both dangerous and petty, have always been with us."

"Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil. Traditional folktales never were. What changed?"

"Trustful parents allow their children as much freedom as reasonably possible to make their own decisions. They trust their children’s instincts, judgments, and ability to learn from mistakes."

"Arugulagate. In 2007, Barack Obama was in Iowa, speaking as a presidential hopeful to a group of farmers who were worried about the stagnation of their crop prices while America’s grocery bills continued to rise."

"To say that information exists in and of itself is akin to speaking of spin without the top, of ripples without water, of a dance without the dancer, or of the Cheshire Cat’s grin without the cat."

"Ted Cruz replaces the Democrats’ muddled manifesto with a clear and unequivocal exploration of the hatred of Jews and its particular evils."