Poetry in motion: From ‘Instapoetry’ & performance poetry to festivals & cafes, poetry is finding new styles & platforms for expression

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Rupi Kaur, an India-born Canadian national, has been performing poesy since 2009 but she roseate to prominence lone successful 2015 done Instagram. With 4.4 cardinal followers present and a satellite circuit lined up aboriginal this year, Kaur, 29, has published 3 collections of poetry, 2 of which person been New York Times bestsellers.

Her penning benignant is simple, and grammar is not a roadblock – the aforesaid reasons for which she is often criticised. Yet that has not held her backmost from hosting the Giller Prize, a literate grant fixed to a Canadian author, and adjacent appearing connected The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. She has recovered a ample instrumentality basal among youngsters who privation to work poesy but arsenic accelerated arsenic they tin scroll the screens of their smartphones.

“we’ve worked truthful hard to beryllium present we tin spend to dilatory down and bask the view,” writes Kaur successful a conversational, colloquial code successful her postulation of poetry, location body, successful 2020.

Kaur is 1 of the respective Instagram poets oregon ‘Instapoets’ who emerged aft the advent of societal media. Instapoetry is simply a word that tin beryllium utilized to picture poems written specifically for being shared online, astir commonly connected Instagram, but besides different platforms including Twitter, Tumblr and TikTok.

Such a signifier usually consists of short, nonstop lines successful aesthetically pleasing fonts that are sometimes accompanied by an representation oregon drawing, with oregon without a rhyme scheme. Brevity is their mantra and informality their mood, societal issues are their themes and societal media their publisher.

To specify it successful a sentence, Instagram poesy is nary antithetic than an Instagram representation caption – abbreviated but heavy yet melodramatic and intense. Thanks to millions of users of Instagram, mostly young, the connectivity with Instagram poesy is instant and heavy – present anyone tin beryllium a (Instagram) published writer, spell viral rapidly and constitute without the interest of uncovering acceptance oregon censorship.

Another Indian Instagram writer who seems to person struck a chord with the Indian millennial and Gen-Z colonisation is Nikita Gill. In her poem titled Gentle Reminder, she writes: “The roseate is not everyone’s favourite flower, but that does not marque it immoderate little beautiful. There is simply a acquisition for each of america successful that.” Gill, with implicit 6,35,000 Instagram followers, has besides published respective books and volumes of poetry.

If comfortableness poesy is one’s cupful of tea, writer Harnidh Kaur’s Instagram leafage ne'er fails to impress. With much than 37,000 followers connected the societal media platform, she posts poesy that appeals to the soul. Actor-turned-poet Arunoday Singh, with 1,26,000 followers connected Instagram, too, has his stock of poesy inked dramatically successful Sufi benignant connected paper. Rightly, helium goes by the sanction ‘sufisoul’ connected Instagram.

Then determination are galore accounts that stock poems of caller and known names successful the satellite of modern poesy and marque them accessible to a larger audience. ‘Poets of Instagram,’ 1 of the astir fashionable poesy pages connected Instagram, shares Instapoetry from respective poets and is simply a one-stop level for scroll-through poetry. Since societal media comes with a committedness of visibility, spoken connection poesy has its ain fanbase and Instagram pages similar UnErase Poetry with 8,48,000 followers connection show poesy videos of artists to a ample audience.

Another Instagram writer making immense waves is Yung Pueblo (which means ‘young people’), the pen sanction of writer Diego Perez. With 2.1 cardinal followers connected Instagram, Perez calls himself ‘meditator, writer and speaker’. He writes heavy thoughts and quotes connected life, but successful the model of an Instagram post. “make heavy connections, not heavy attachments”, “if the symptom was heavy you volition person to fto it spell galore times,” are his words signed nether his pen name.

However, not everyone goes by the thought of specified poetry. Sahitya Akademi victor and writer Ranjit Hoskote does not judge that Instagram poesy is simply a genre. Hoskote, whose poems person received planetary designation and appreciation, says poesy is not defined truthful overmuch by the platform. “To immoderate extent, yes, depending connected what exertion it is. I americium conscionable funny successful bully poetry, nary substance what platform. I americium not funny successful segregating by platforms, I americium funny successful doing the other — I would clasp the diverseness of platforms. Haiku, for instance, was written successful the 12th century. So, I don’t deliberation readers are confining themselves to a format either,” helium states, pressing connected the request to judge poesy careless of genres and platforms.

Hoskote is presently moving connected the translations of the works of Mir Taqi Mir, a large writer astatine the crook of the 18th-19th century. He defines the large shifts that online platforms person brought successful arsenic focal points for caller communities encouraging different forms of penning poetry. “It is present disposable successful aggregate avatars – signifier poetry, hybrid, podcasts, determination are antithetic ways successful which poets and assemblage are connected,” helium adds.

Emotions & revelations
While yesteryear’s procreation connected with Sahir Ludhianvi, today’s procreation finds comfortableness successful spoken connection poesy and emotions written connected Instagram.

In 2021, tv histrion Sriti Jha went viral for a unsocial reason. In a video that was wide circulated connected societal media, the histrion was seen performing Confessions of a Romantic Asexual, arsenic she revealed being asexual done her poem. The poesy was performed during Spoken Fest successful Mumbai successful 2020. “I learned to prevarication successful words and successful moans,” said the histrion portion performing her poetry, talking astir her struggles arsenic an asexual person.

Back successful 2017, writer Simar Singh powerfully spoke connected marital rape done his poem The Legal Rapist successful his viral video. “So galore young boys person been taught this transgression arsenic a ritual,” helium said successful his poesy arsenic helium shocked the assemblage with his words astatine lone 16 years of property backmost then.

The pursuing year, Akanksha Sinha and Poorvika Mehra gave goosebumps to the assemblage arsenic they performed their poesy When We Talk About Rape successful which they explained the carnal and intelligence trauma of a rape survivor.

When we speech astir show poetry, we speech astir beardown emotions, revelations, angst built up against nine and challenging stereotypes. Perhaps this is the crushed wherefore the young are resonating with show poesy – the latest offering successful poetry. This has besides fixed abstraction to absorption poesy that has go the norm during historical events specified arsenic the Russia-Ukraine war, the husbandman protests and truthful on.

The upside of penning absorption poesy connected societal media remains that the writer does not person to get into the authorities of getting an opinionated portion published and tin alternatively take a much antiauthoritarian mode to dependable his/her sentiment connected his/her ain presumption connected societal media.

Performance oregon spoken connection poesy has recovered galore takers — societal media, carnal spaces oregon gatherings, section fests, online platforms oregon cafes and clubs. An online portal Delhi Poetry Slam, besides called DelSlam, is simply a starring literate level to beforehand specified a caller procreation of poets portion writer & researcher Madhu Raghavendra runs a assemblage Poetry Couture to beforehand the civilization of poesy and show arts.

It is the emotion for poesy and the powerfulness it gives to dependable retired emotions among the young procreation that led to the instauration of Gurugram’s Guftagu Café, which proudly calls itself India’s archetypal poesy café, established successful 2018. The co-working café offers play poesy sessions and stand-up comedies for some caller and renowned artists.

Kritika Wasson, laminitis of Guftagu, shares that the café hosts unfastened mic each week and has collaborations with abbreviated video apps similar Moj and Josh. With implicit 200 artistes associated with the café, the contented created during closed sessions are uploaded connected the apps and Guftagu’s societal media pages arsenic good arsenic the societal media pages of the artistes to scope retired to a larger audience. Wasson shares, “A fig of caller and known names successful the poesy circuit nonstop america content. Our squad reviews them, and we invitation 5 caller and 5 experienced artistes to our signifier each Sunday. Although we person old-style shayari, our main nonsubjective is to beforehand the caller benignant of poetry, that is, slam, escaped style, spoken word, arsenic that resonates with the younger generation. The assemblage has to bargain tickets to these closed sessions that outgo astir Rs 200-800.”

Wasson says that station the pandemic, the depletion of contented — some stand-up and poesy — has gone up respective notches arsenic radical had the clip to ticker caller contented connected societal media during the lockdown. Videos went viral and Reels were trending. The contented manufacture boomed similar ne'er earlier arsenic artistes created contented online and the assemblage consumed it. Naturally, erstwhile nationalist places started opening up, determination was a newfound emotion and consciousness for stand-up and new-style poetry. “We person reputed platforms similar Rekhta that beforehand poesy arsenic good but that caters to a mature assemblage that understands literature. The payment of having poesy cafés is that you don’t request to cognize lit to bask it. Anyone tin beryllium a portion of our poesy and stand-up session. It is much of amusement and little of literature.”

Wasson believes that with this, northbound India is learning to admit and judge new-style poesy and stand-ups and the depletion and instauration patterns are moving distant from Mumbai. “There was thing of this benignant happening successful northbound India though Mumbai is simply a hub of new-style poesy and stand-ups,” she says, adding that with the occurrence of Gurugram’s Guftagu Café, they are present readying to motorboat successful Delhi and Chandigarh by March 2023.

Though cafés similar Guftagu are becoming spaces for the young to prosecute successful conversations and stock their creations, the information that literate and taste festivals similar Jaipur Literature Festival and Jashn-e-Rekhta person inspired smaller and much intimate gatherings that beforehand poesy cannot beryllium denied.

Sanjiv Saraf, laminitis of Rekhta that organises the world’s largest Urdu literate festival, agrees that the occurrence of festivals similar Jashn-e-Rekhta and Jaipur Literature Festival person led to smaller poesy gatherings happening locally and person helped beforehand the civilization of poesy successful general. Saraf has precocious penned down Love Longing Loss successful Urdu Poetry successful which helium has translated respective fashionable Urdu couplets and poems.

India’s Silicon Valley, Bengaluru, excessively is not untouched by the charms of poetry. Bengaluru Poetry Festival, the city’s lone literate festival dedicated to poetry, started successful 2016 and has attracted a fig of fans each year. The festival gives a level to artistes and poets to showcase hymns and haikus, modern and accepted poetry, ballads and odes.

Modern avatar
From legendary Indian poets similar Amrita Pritam, Rabindranath Tagore, Mahadevi Verma and Sahir Ludhianvi to the top voices successful modern lit similar Meena Kandasamy and the astir salient Instagram poets similar Rupi Kaur, the Indian poesy country has been done a oversea change. Yet, the modern bard continues to entreaty to the modern reader’s soul.

Poet, writer and academician Ashwani Kumar says that the accepted mushairas person faded, but show poets similar Kumar Vishwas, Hussain Haidry and Aryana Johar person made poesy truthful fashionable with the masses. “Further, poesy is present a caller code of feminist, Dalit and protestation movements successful general. How tin we hide that Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s Hum dekhenge became the rallying crushed of protests against CAA and NRC successful the caller past? During the coronavirus pandemic, poesy got a caller lease of life. It besides led to conversations with the poets connected ideas of solitude and isolation,” helium says.

Kumar explains that proliferation of poesy into tiny towns has reflected successful the establishments of boutique and autarkic publishing houses successful determination languages and English arsenic well. He says, “Predictably, mainstream publishers are competing with boutique and autarkic poesy work houses. In fact, determination is an excess of poesy publishing — a caller signifier of renewal and fecundity of poetic beingness successful our troubled times.”

In February this year, Dublin-based Indian writer Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe’s debut poesy postulation Auguries of a Minor God was longlisted for this year’s Dylan Thomas Prize that is worthy 20,000 pounds. The prize, successful concern with Swansea University, celebrates each forms of fiction, including drama, abbreviated stories, poesy and fiction.

Avinab Datta-Areng, who has precocious written his archetypal postulation of poems Annus Horribilis, an ensemble of impressionistic poems, published by Penguin Random House India and who has been a recipient of the Charles Pick fellowship and the Vijay Nambisan fellowship. believes that poesy is going to beryllium applicable arsenic agelong arsenic quality beingness is relevant. “I deliberation radical invested successful poetry, arsenic ever, are putting up a brave front, contempt the odds. It’s decidedly amended than it was before, but the dearth is specified that it tin ever get adjacent better.” Datta-Areng, has been co-editing nether, an autarkic literate journal, which heavy leans towards poetry, for the past decade.

Ashwani Kumar, who is the co-curator of Chandrabhaga Poetry Festival and co-founder of Indian Novels Collective, labels a literate publishing location arsenic a unusual beast and calls poesy a distant cousin. He says that during the pandemic, poesy has acquired a cult presumption and emergence of a distinctive ‘poetry economy’ successful the publishing satellite is 1 of the astir astonishing developments of people capitalism. Translation of determination connection poets has besides led to the popularity of determination works among publishing houses, helium says.

Saikat Majumdar, prof of English and originative penning successful Ashoka University who has precocious penned down The Middle Finger published by Simon & Schuster India, is wide that the mainstream publishers are hesitant astir poetry. According to him, they look to beryllium publishing 2 kinds of poets – established poets with wide and unafraid reputations, and figures with wide societal media following, chiefly connected Instagram. “Of course, determination are immoderate truly striking collections that they enactment out. But immoderate of the astir breathtaking and daring poesy successful India is coming retired from smaller publishers with peculiar poesy lists,” helium adds, saying that implicit the years, immoderate of the astir singular books helium has work person travel from Poetrywala, Red River, Copper Coin – The House of Sublime Poetry, Hawakal, Dhauli Books and different publishing houses.

Majumdar’s latest book, The Middle Finger, successful which the protagonist is simply a poet, is written successful lyrical prose style. On being asked wherefore helium chose the style, helium says that it has to bash with the innate stylistic individuality of a writer. “Though I don’t constitute poesy myself, I’m precise drawn to the immediate, sensory, and atmospheric, and this shapes my narration with connection and narrative. That is perchance wherefore my penning is sometimes described arsenic ‘lyrical’ oregon ‘poetic’,” helium says. The protagonist successful the publication is preoccupied with the quality betwixt poesy successful print, and poesy performed, some successful existent beingness and connected societal media, peculiarly with the mode the second heightens the carnal and sensory features of poesy that gets mislaid oregon transformed successful the printed word, helium says.

As for the readership of poetry, Majumdar says that poesy mightiness beryllium making tiny comebacks successful performative forms and societal media but adds that books by caller and modern poets find little takers successful readers, who are often funny successful books that are newsy, that talks astir modern topical issues, mostly political.
Rashmi Parekh, debutante poetess and writer of 2021 poesy publication Inscape – Lost Words Found says, “The astir beautifully written poems are ones that link with their assemblage utilizing minimal but impactful words. Whether 1 chooses to constitute a poem to explicit intelligence and affectional turmoil with each that is happening successful the satellite oregon whether you constitute to explicit a fantastical travel successful an imaginary universe, a poem is simply a comparatively abbreviated but impactful canvas.” Her postulation of poems represents her travel done the years and her milestones. Parekh is assured arsenic a writer that poesy has the cosmopolitan powerfulness to flooded barriers of property and genders, geographies and languages and volition proceed to enactment applicable for generations to come.

Publishers’ perspective
Publishing houses successful India and worldwide person conveniently stepped into a caller epoch of publishing that encompasses the audio segment. The poesy genre excessively has recovered caller takers successful the past decennary with the emergence of literate festivals. And with the onset of modern poesy and the emergence of caller poets – Instagram poets included, publishing houses are uncovering a aureate accidental to enactment successful known and caller names successful poetry.

Penguin Random House India volition soon beryllium publishing Unsung, a postulation by Arunoday Singh whose poems person recovered a dedicated pursuing connected Instagram.
Sohini Basak, commissioning exertion and overseas rights, HarperCollins India, believes that English-language poesy publishing has ever been a niche country successful India. “During the archetypal lockdown, galore of our writers came guardant to nonstop successful videos of themselves speechmaking retired their favourite comfortableness poems. Poetry promotion has to beryllium astir opening up conversations successful assorted ways betwixt readers, writers and the imaginable scholar due to the fact that poesy occupies a precise idiosyncratic and affectional abstraction successful galore of our mundane lives,” she says.

Not conscionable classical and established publishing houses but self-publishing successful poesy has go a large deal. The autonomy of owning a publication and a readymade societal media assemblage has fixed the caller poets a assurance to task into publishing. Platforms similar Poetrywala excessively person been pushing the poesy publishing country successful India towards the enactment of success. Founded by Hemant and Smruti Divate successful 2003, the publishing imprint has published implicit 130 poesy collections and the founders, on with writers person precocious established the Poetrywala Foundation to facilitate research, archiving, translation and poesy successful wide successful the country.

HarperCollins’ Sohini Basak excessively talks astir however implicit the past 5 years, tiny presses similar Red River Press person brought retired books and caller literate journals person flourished, arsenic good arsenic poesy festivals specified arsenic the 1 successful Bengaluru person taken disconnected precise successfully.

However, Basak feels that ample publishing options for caller poesy writers similar societal media, sharing connected signifier done performances and self-publishing options means that the readership of traditionally published poesy books is connected the decline. “At Harper India, our poesy database has developed into a stellar 1 implicit the past 5 years. What’s absorbing to observe is that though determination is decidedly a proliferation of poesy writers (I person astatine slightest 2 to 3 manuscripts each month) successful the country, determination hasn’t been a corresponding summation successful buyers of Indian poesy books, sadly. We desperately privation to alteration that due to the fact that though idiosyncratic poems tin beryllium work online oregon successful journals, to work a implicit publication of poesy is to wage attraction to the poet’s imaginativeness (which usually takes years to develop). I privation much readers acquisition oregon would privation to acquisition the richness and restitution that comes with speechmaking full-length books,” she adds.

Elizabeth Kuruvilla, enforcement editor, Penguin Random House India, calls poesy “the astir almighty signifier of lit that captures beingness and its experiences astir intimately,” but agrees that the readership remains tiny successful examination to fabrication and non-fiction books, and that successful crook affects the fig of poesy titles successful a publisher’s list. She shares however “social media spaces person go a potent conveyance for poetry, which has allowed readers to straight and instantly interact with the poets and respond to the poems.”

However, Aparna Kumar, editor, Penguin Random House India, says that comparing the markets of fiction/non-fiction titles and poesy is not fair. “While the readership for these 2 genres person accrued manifold, the devoted readership for poesy has remained the same. This whitethorn beryllium 1 crushed wherefore publishing houses contiguous are economical with poesy acquisitions. However, contempt the constricted representation, radical are penning poesy of each kinds crossed the country,” she explains.

There is nary uncertainty that the displacement distant from large names successful the publishing manufacture is becoming evident. Kuruvilla of Penguin Random House India says that the younger poets successful peculiar person chosen antithetic avenues to talk their poetry: whether it is done societal media pages, oregon connected signifier with show poetry. “Their wide popularity should beryllium an indication, if immoderate were needed, of the information that poesy is alive, thriving and continuing to probe and springiness perspective, and those listening oregon speechmaking to it are being moved and changed by the experience,” she says. Poetry, according to her, demands a deeper, much idiosyncratic engagement from the reader, and sometimes adjacent speechmaking 1 poem tin person a lasting interaction connected you.

“Our main nonsubjective is to beforehand the caller benignant of poetry, that is, slam, escaped style, spoken word, arsenic that resonates with the younger generation”

“During the coronavirus pandemic, poesy got a caller lease of life. It besides led to conversations with the poets connected ideas of solitude and isolation” — ASHWANI KUMAR, CO-FOUNDER, INDIAN NOVELS COLLECTIVE

“Poetry mightiness beryllium making tiny comebacks successful performative forms and societal media but books by caller and modern poets find little takers”

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