I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with poetry. I love that feeling when I read a poem and it really clicks. But all too often I’ll read a poem and think; ‘What does it mean?’ and give myself a headache trying to figure it out. So, if you’re anything like me, then you might find poetry a little daunting.
Sure, traditional poetry is great but there’s a new group of ultra-cool poets on the scene who have got their big break through Instagram! Yep, just type in #instapoet and you’ll see over 1.2 million posts and counting.
The poems you’ll see are often brief and succinct (sometimes just a handful of words), but are beautiful in their simplicity. These five women below are paving the way for a new kind of poetry: modern, authentic and accessible. So get schooled…
Poet and artist Rupi Kaur is probably the most well-known of these women. She was thrust into the spotlight in 2015 when she posted a photo of herself on Instagram, lying down with blood on her jeans that had leaked due to her period. This photo was part of a series on menstruation and was designed to challenge the stigma surrounding periods. It was taken down (ridic, we know) and a conversation began on why something as natural and normal as a period was censored.
Rupi has 1.8 million followers on Instagram and has released two collections of poetry; milk & honey and the sun and her flowers. Both have been on bestseller lists, plus readings of her work are sell-out hits all over the world! Her poems tackle a range of subjects from abuse and heartbreak, to womanhood, love and family.
“other women’s bodies
are not our battlegrounds.”
Nayyirah Waheed’s first collection, salt, is one of my most loved books. Her words have moved me to tears as she captures the pain and beauty found in everyday life. Her work is often a celebration of black womanhood in which she seeks to express and elevate her experiences. She also muses on female creativity, self-love and the importance of knowing your worth and finding strength within. Her latest collection, Nejma (Arabic for ‘star’) is just as moving and powerful as her first.
“i am mine.
before I am ever anyone else’s.
British-born Yrsa Daley-Ward’s collection, bone, is full to the brim with poems that are often dark and haunting. Her book explores the experience of being a queer black woman. She underscores the beauty, despair and sorrow present in everyday happenings. A favourite of mine is “Mental Health” in which a line captures the worry that we all face as adulthood looms and we wonder whether things will work out;
“Know that there is a time
coming in your life when dirt settles
and the patterns form a picture.”
Reading Alexandra Elle’s poems is like spending time with a friend. A really good friend who can always make you feel better. I get a real sense of joy and strength whenever I look at Alex’s Instagram. Alex has endured difficult and testing times, such as having her daughter at 18. She’s used her experiences to create work that seeks to express the power of healing and self-discovery.
Her poems feature on her Instagram but she also writes words on scraps of paper and posts those, too. She refers to these notes as affirmations and they’re designed to help promote positivity and self-confidence. Her Instagram page is a treasure trove of creativity. Her latest book, Neon Soul, is brimming with uplifting work.
give your truth
let it go.
let it fly.”
London-based Nikita Gill’s work was rejected 137(!) times until she was eventually offered a publishing deal. She’s explained that often publishers would say her work was too easy to interpret. “I struggled with that because I don’t want someone to be sitting there with a dictionary trying to figure out what I’m trying to say. I mean that kind of defeats the purpose of the writing,” she said. Amen, babes.
Her latest collection, Wild Embers, talks about endurance, female power and desire: she’s all about the feminism, girl. Her Instagram page is awash with beautiful graphics of her words, she has over 250,000 followers and celebrities from Khloe Kardashian to LeAnn Rimes are big fans of her poetry.
“Show Me Your Soul
the most damaged
part of your soul,
and I will show you
how it still shines like gold.”
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Image: Katie Edmunds