Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Online Poet

In my era, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen were just some of the artists who transcended traditional artistic borders of genre and mixed poetic literature with music. It was the message and music rolled in one.

Poetry has had the steepest decline in participation in any literary genre. According to The Washington Post, only 6.7% percent of American adults read poetry (which is still an unbelievably positive number considering the Khardashians have embedded themselves in living rooms all across the nation. Malcolm Gladwell’s point that it takes only 5% of a community/city/country to influence the greater good). Only opera has a smaller audience.

Numbers alone do not tell the full story. In an article in The Millions, Kate Angus argues that lots of people are still reading poetry today; they simply read poetry online. Just like e-books, e-poetry is on the rise.

The emergence of different forms of poetry, a modern, digital poetry so to speak, does not surprise me. People today read books on their iPads, phones and Kindles. Why wouldn’t they read poetry in the same way - especially when the digital world we live in has made it so easy for us to access the written and spoken word?

Tyler Knott Gregson is one of those new generation digital poets. He is what The New York Times labels “the literary equivalent of a unicorn”. Rather than waiting to be published, he posted his work on Instagram and Tumblr. His 560,000 followers are proof of the fact that people do still enjoy poetry.

Poetry feels much alive. It is one of the most personal art forms there is - even more so for the new digital poets. Their appeal “lies in the unpolished flavor of their verses, which often read as if they were ripped from the pages of a diary”. I agree. We all relate to emotion. We might even have experienced something similar. Choosing social media as a medium to share such emotional art just makes sense.

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