The Instagram powered poetry renaissance

Jace Harms


Social media has been used for people to express themselves in many ways, but the so-called “insta-poets” have discovered a new way of finding an audience for their poetry. Now, many short poems can be found on people’s Instagram feeds as they scroll. This poetry is usually only a few lines, but it grasps the reader’s attention with witty rhymes. Instagram poetry is modernizing and grabbing a broader audience than traditional poetry. Its existence is vital to the survival of poetry in the modern digital age.

Instagram Poetry is a new phenomenon that has grown in popularity in recent years. It is a style of poetry that is specifically written and shared on social media, particularly Instagram. Instagram poetry is typically short. It’s often accompanied by a visually striking image, which helps to make the poem stand out in a cluttered social media feed. 

“How can I be so,

Cruel to myself,

When I’m doing the best I can.”

– Rupi Kaur.

That was a poem by one of the most followed poets on Instagram, Rupi Kaur, with 4.5 million followers. It was short, with no rhyme, but it carries weight because it doesn’t have context. You have no idea what the author is talking about. Its words allow you to insert your own story within the poem’s meaning. It is a piece of a puzzle you get to imagine in your head, and to me, that is very poetic. 

Poetry takes many different forms, from Haikus to Sonnets; it’s a type of art that can be very diverse and creative. Why would Instagram Poetry be excluded from this? It’s not the same as Emily Dickinson or Edgar Allen Poe, but it is what the modern audience prefers.

Just as jazz has been used in modern music, Instagram poetry is a way to modernize art and gain an audience for something not very popular anymore. Instagram poetry is made for people who don’t want to go out and buy full books of poetry and those who just like the writing style. They want something quick to entertain, inspire or feel emotions; through literature. According to The Atlantic, 12 of the 20 best-selling poets in 2018 gained an audience through Instagram, and 28 million people read poetry through Instagram.

(Illustration by Lauren Olsen)


Instagram has more accessible poetry but is also a place for up-and-coming poets to publish. It is much easier to publish poetry on Instagram than in a literary magazine or major publication. Therefore a lot more writing is being shared through social media. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1992, 17 percent of Americans had read poetry, but in 2012 only 7 percent had. Poetry was a dying industry that needed a savior.

But many of the literary elites give Instagram poets a hard time for their works. They believe that their modifications to poetry defies traditional poetry. Famous British poet Rebecca Watts criticized Rupi Kaur, saying, “We must stop celebrating amateurism and ignorance in our poetry.” She wrote an article that got the attention of almost the whole Insta-poet community. Her argument, as well as those of many other professional poets, was that these Insta-poets prioritize quantity over quality in their writing. They deliver something that could seem clever but is simple, while other poets work hard to make something more curated. 

Although Instagram poetry isn’t the same as traditional poetry, it is a new genre of poetry that has many advantages. Its outreach, and widespread appeal has helped to keep the art form of poetry alive, allowing people to be inspired everyday just by scrolling through their Instagram feed.