Instagram Poets Are Ruining Everything (I’m Looking At You R.M. Drake)
I was taking a scroll through my Instagram feed the other day when I came across something mildly infuriating. It wasn’t something I hadn’t seen before — in fact, it’s becoming something I’m beginning to see more often.
A girl that I follow had reposted a picture of four lines of sappy, sentimental drivel that was meant to be poetry but was actually, as I and others like to call it, Instagram Poetry. It’s a new brand form of the ancient art, taken up by twenty-somethings who like to add “Poet” to their short bios.
My first interaction with Instagram Poetry was a few months prior, when another person I follow had reposted a short ‘poem’ by R.M. Drake. After scoffing at the words, I checked out Drake’s profile to see more of the same. Variations of cliches filled the page, with thousands upon thousands of likes on each post. I was stumped. How did people like this shit?
So I ignored it.
For one, I was insulted. I’ve gone through rigorous poetry workshops, spent hours counting beats for sonnets, sweated through a live poetry reading for a crowd of about 40, and have had my own poetry rejected from literary magazines. After all of that, this pretentious crap was getting the attention of multitudes of millennials?
Instagram Poetry made me question why I spend so much time studying and writing this stuff when R.M. Drake can pull four lines that have been repeated and overused throughout time and get a shitload of attention. Was all my time for naught? Is this what modern poetry is becoming?
Perhaps the poetry by accounts like R.M. Drake are simply fitting for today’s generation, who can’t pay attention to something unless it’s dulling their senses to the extreme. Reading four or so lines of complete mush is much easier than taking on, let’s say, Shelley’s Adonaïs (‘No more let Life divide what Death can bring together’ — suck on that R.M.).
Let me take a crack at crafting an R.M. Drake work of art:
She stumbled madly through the world
Searching for someone to love her madly.
If he put that up one his page, people would eat it up.
I know what many readers are probably thinking: she’s a bitter loser who can’t get her own stuff published. And yeah, that’s true, but my bitterness is only so blatant because it sincerely frustrates me to read these ‘poems’. I cannot sit idly by and watch them gain traction, attention, and digital fame while real poets are struggling to make ends meet because this is something they’re truly passionate about.
And this isn’t to say that R.M. Drake is a total failure of a poet. If anything, he’s doing some good by introducing people to what poetry could be, and maybe some of them dig a little deeper to find the good shit. Or maybe they don’t. Maybe they repost it to their own feed and the cycle continues, forever and ever…
And remember, I don’t want to put anyone down with this post. If you like the stuff R.M. Drake puts out, then more power to you. But invest in the future of poetry and read what others are putting out as well, whether it be through a magazine or journal, or through the world wide web. Promote poets!