Why Instagram Poetry Is Not Poetry: Part 2

Before we all get mad here, I solemnly confess, I read ‘Instagram Poetry’. Heck, I even like some ‘Instagram Poetry’ but that doesn’t mean my tastes are off in any way.

I know we promised a ‘Literary Analysis’ of ‘Instagram Poetry’ last week, but despite valiant efforts we could not find anything literary to analyse, therefore this article  aims to dissect Instagram Poetry in an objective manner before coming to a final conclusion.

Why is Instagram Poetry so popular?

Well, as mentioned in the previous article, humans now have an attention span shorter than that of a goldfish, so the reason Instagram Poetry lingers in our mind is because in those eight seconds, we’ve read the entire poem. Instagram poetry is basically the Buzzfeed of poetry- Tiny consumable poems that we can read in the short breaks we have from our busy lives. (Also, unrelated, but please google up cute goldfish. I nearly died.)


Why do we like it?

It’s pretty, it’s easy to read, it’s nice to put up as a Facebook status, it’s relatable… the list goes on. ‘Instagram poetry’ or pop poetry is essentially the prettiest of words sprinkled on the 3 x 3 grid of Instagram. If you’ve noticed, Instagram Poetry essentially has no plot, and is never about one precise thing, rather it writes about feelings so that the reader can relate to  them no matter who they are, what they do or where they come from. Moreover Instagram Poetry tends to write about love- a human favourite in terms of subject.

Why do we hate it?

Despite its mass following, Instagram Poetry has also garnered quite a lot of people who dislike it. This is probably due to its unconventional nature. Instagram Poetry is usually just so short, that it’s basically just a sentence in fragments. Due to this many critics believe that it lacks creative effort. To quote Mary Oliver,

…The free-verse poem, when finished, must “feel” like a poem–it must be an intended and an effective presentation. It need not scan, but it may scan a little if the poet is so inclined. It need not rhyme in a definite pattern, but it may rhyme a little, if the poet decides to rhyme a little. It need not follow particular stanza formations, though it of course may have stanzas…

Meaning, that even though many Instagram poets defend their work as being written in free verse, in reality it is not so.

Moreover as mentioned previously, Instagram poetry tends to be ambiguous in its plot and subject. It instead is about feelings, therefore allowing anyone to relate to it. This lack of subject also adds to the impression that Instagram Poetry lacks skill and effort.

In an article published by The New Yorker, the writer interviews popular Instagram poet r.H. Sin, via Instagram direct messaging. After the interview she inquired as to whether he was writing during the interview. He responded that he had written 11 poems in that short span of four hours. This gives critics further fuel as it touches on the mass produced nature of Instagram poetry- as it questions the essence of each poem being unique.


Despite mixed reactions, Instagram Poetry is growing stronger everyday. What it lacks in creative effort, it makes up for in it’s skill in appealing to the masses. No matter what anyone says, it is quite a skill to know exactly what to write to become this popular. Instagram poetry has created a platform for everyday people to enjoy some sort of ‘literature’ that can make their lives a bit nicer. In a nutshell, Instagram Poetry is not poetry, it lacks nearly everything that makes poetry what it is. It is, however, a different but valid kind of art-form of its own.

By Shamra Rifai 

your friendly neighbourhood grammar nazi

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