Many of the infamous names behind contemporary poems can trace their beginnings to the social media platform, Instagram, where they post their works in seemingly uniformed display, featuring short and simple sentences, little to no visuals, and minimalistic aesthetic infusion.
According to 26-year-old music entrepreneur Razqadipta, what makes modern poetry stand out is its relatability. “It is a means of therapy for me, as I find it relatable. It is such a relief to know that I am not alone,” he said.
Mostly, fans fall for the mental and emotional impact of modern poetry.
At first perusal, they may not seem meticulously thought-out or linguistically complex, but modern poems seem to have found a place in the hearts of readers.
“It (contemporary poetry) can also be motivating as poetry is a form of art one can channel one’s emotions through,” Razqadipta added.
Canadian poet and author Rupi Kaur could perhaps be dubbed as the face of modern poetry, as she was one of the first poets to take her work online and have it recognized and followed by millions – 3.9 million at the moment – on Instagram. She then went on to become a New York Times bestselling author.
“Trying to convince myself / I am allowed / to take up space / is like writing with / my left hand / when I was born / to use my right,” Kaur wrote in her first book of poems, Milk and Honey.
The Indian-born author divided her debut book into four parts: The Hurting, The Loving, The Breaking, and The Healing. In the book, she has delved into a wide range of topics, from love, loss, trauma, healing, to even femininity.
“Each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache,” Kaur said on the blurb of the book that was published in November 2014, adding that it aimed to take readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and find sweetness in them, “because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.”
In her writing, she candidly speaks on empowering womenkind, especially women of color; past family life; and the trauma of sexual abuse.
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A post shared by rupi kaur (@rupikaur_) on Dec 11, 2019 at 6:50pm PST
The success of her first book led Kaur to create more poems, posted on Instagram or performed live as spoken-word poetry, and eventually in October, 2017, she released another book, The Sun and Her Flowers.
Her second book rated slightly higher than the first with 4.2 stars out of 5 on GoodReads. Milk and Honey had received 4.1 stars.
The Sun and Her Flowers has five chapters: Wilting, Falling, Rooting, Rising, and Blooming, in which Kaur has touched more on the process of personal growth and perhaps, even mental health, as she has remarked on depression in the chapter Falling.
Though she has covered somewhat different ranges of empowerment in both her books, her words remain raw, blunt, sometimes all too real, and relatable to many.
Putri Nabila, a 25-year-old start-up employee, thinks that reading modern poetry allows her to put her feelings into words. “They make just the right choice in their wording… put something that we feel into beautiful words,” she said.
Though inclined to follow Rupi Kaur’s Instagram account, she bought a book of poems created by another contemporary poet, Lang Leav, titled Love & Misadventure.
Leav, a poet and novelist, was born in a Thai refugee camp where her family were fleeing the Khmer Rouge regime. She went on to spend her formative years in Sydney, Australia.
Through her first book, published in 2013, she wrote on the ‘personal yet universal’ journey of heartbreak and rediscovering love.
“Like time suspended, a wound unmended – you and I / We had no ending, no said good-bye / For all my life, I’ll wonder why,” she wrote in a poem titled Closure about a relationship that ended abruptly, something many people have gone through in their lifetime.
The world of contemporary poetry, where writers get deep into their feelings about anything and everything, is not exclusive to female writers, as poet Reuben Holmes, known as r.H. Sin on Instagram, could perhaps vouch for.
His work, which often sheds light on the confusion in the early stages of a relationship, has earned him 1.8 million followers on Instagram. He has published a number of books, and the first one was titled Whiskey, Words, & a Shovel.
In an interview with The New Yorker in 2017, Holmes said that his work depicts the very words he would have said to his sister, mother, or any woman he wanted to protect from getting hurt in a romantic relationship.
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A post shared by r.h. Sin (@r.h.sin) on Dec 6, 2019 at 6:48pm PST
Combined with the raw, blunt delivery of modern poetry, Holmes’ writings can often seem like the pep talk we never knew we needed.
“he is not sorry / forgive him / for the sake of yourself / and walk away / for the sake of your future,” he writes in one poem.
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