Poetry is the new therapy. They flood the streets of Instagram and are governed by men who recycle sentimental swill. The poets that dominate the industry – their work feels like injections of comfort, but it’s a drug that keeps you complacent. People who have been hurt or who are lost wander through Instagram poetry accounts, looking for an answer to their sadness and pain. These followers seek solace in the arms of these poets, where they are hushed to sleep. They are kept in a limbo where they are made to feel the same emotion again and again with every poem they read.
You are strong. You are wild. He doesn’t deserve you. Men suck, but not me, I’m a man, but I’m the greatest man because I love women.
While some poets’ intent may be pure, many male poets write with a sense of authority, entitlement and ‘keen understanding’ of women, confidently being their voice and savior against the men that have hurt them. I know these poets are simply trying to capitalize on their followers’ pain. Recycled keywords like ‘broken,’ ‘weak,’ ‘hurt,’ ‘strong,’ ‘deserve’ force contemporary poetry to be advertised as cliché inspirational quotes. No new content is being put into this system, and personally, I think the industry has turned stale.
In a universe where pictures are scrolled past without a second thought unless it grabs your attention, where if a poem is too complex for the mind to grasp the instant you finish reading it – it’s not worth ‘liking.’ Content creators are pressured to comply and to write sappy, emotionally intense snippets to be liked, followed, and relevant. We are losing the intricacy and depth to poetry and have replaced it with instant gratification that allows people, or dare I say sheeple, to wallow in his or her sadness. What is ‘good’ poetry anymore?
Now that social media closes the distance between poet and reader, does a poet have a greater duty to his or her followers? Must they cater to their followers? Someone once posed the question: Do comedians make jokes to make people laugh, or do they do it to prove they’re funny? My struggle between my desire to be authentic, and the pressure to cater to the market for mainstream poetry makes me ask myself: Do I write poetry and publish it onto Instagram to make me like myself, or to make other people like me?
Here is a poem to summarize my sentiments:
A broken record has become a #1 hit.
It appeals to broken hearts.
But maybe one day,
A broken record will break,
Into symmetrical broken parts.
Maybe our eyes and our ears,
Will unfurl after years,
Of listening to the same old tune.
Maybe we are capable of thinking
Instead of making ourselves cry
We are more than clichés
And supposed wise men.
We are worth more than just a statistic.
We are complex, we are multifaceted.
We are human and we are over it.