While we’ll take any excuse to introduce our friends to Tracy K. Smith, the incredible poet behind Life on Mars and our irreplaceable Poet Laureate, or Sylvia Plath, whose newly collected letters are phenomenally exciting because they’re her first piece of published writing untouched by her abuser and ex-husband Ted Hughes, today we’re taking our poetry love in a different – and digital – direction. So, take out your phones, open Instagram, and start reading.
Most Likely to Pop Up in Your Feed: @rupikaur_
As the self-described mother of Milk and Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers, Rupi Kaur (aka @rupikaur_) has her hands full. This 25-year-old digital native really made a name for herself on Instagram in 2013 and the 2.5 million followers she’s gained in the years since prove that her poetry is a visual medium. It’s a platform where she’s managed to follow zero accounts, preferring to use the app as a mobile gallery for her professional grade photography and her words. She gives away so much of her writing for free this way, but if her consistent presence on both Amazon and the New York Times’ bestseller lists is any indication, her readers prefer to clutch her book in their hands. Not to mention, her book covers are extremely Instagrammable.
Most Likely to Start Fresh: @iamkyrobinson
When K.Y. Robinson retired the self-published version of her poetry collection The Chaos of Longing, she deleted all her pictures and started from scratch. Her Instagram now follows the same text-photo-text-photo pattern as Rupi Kaur’s profile and we can’t help but wonder if this is an Andrews McMeel marketing suggestion or stick with what works situation. Either way, we miss the vulnerability and joy that Robinson used to share with her Instagram followers, like her confession that she still finds errors in the self-published edition of The Chaos of Longing, or the heartfelt thank you to her readers when she learned that the book had been picked up for publication by Andrews McMeel. Despite our revamped Instagram criticism, we’re still major fans of Robinson’s poetry and are cannot wait to see her success multiply.
Most Likely to Surprise You: @neilicorn
Neil Hilborn came up through the world of slam poetry, taking the performance aspect of poetry as seriously, he told The Triangle in 2014, “as [he] would if it were [his] job.” But he’s quick to explain that it wasn’t a source of income to him – at least not in 2009 when he started. “[T]here was definitely no money in it. I won $20 at a slam once and I was ecstatic.” In 2014, a video of his poem “OCD” went viral – clocking in at a staggering 13 million views to date. His Instagram is as self-promotional as his contemporaries, but he goes out of his way to be friendly and engaging. It’s so easy to imagine that you’re Hilborn’s friend, so it probably comes as no surprise that we cheered when we saw his poem on the Smoke Signals BBQ sign or when we saw Our Numbered Days on display at Powell’s. By the time you read this, his sophomore collection The Future will be out in the world and we couldn’t be more excited for him.
Most Likely to Make Your Heart Melt: @r.h.sin
r.h. Sin’s newly updated Instagram bio starts with “husband first, married to @samantha.king” and if that doesn’t make your heart soar, we don’t know what will. Reuben Holmes aka r.h. Sin began experimenting with Twitter in 2006, when the social media platform was in its infancy, but his Instagram is the real star. a literary journal of sorts for Sin to share his own work and the poetry of his wife Samantha King. In an interview with The New Yorker in 2017, Sin confided that the two met over Instagram DMs, so the platform has been life changing in more ways than one. Writing an astronomical 7,222 words a day keeps Sin busy enough, but growing his social media audience is always top of mind. “I came into 2016 with 251,018 [Instagram] followers,” he told The New Yorker. “I entered 2017 with 515,164. I am a workhorse.” He now has over one million followers and several published collections of poetry, so clearly the workhorse method is working.
Most Likely to Catch You Off Guard: @urban.haiku
When actress Caitlin Diana Doyle was looking for a creative outlet she could control, she turned to her New York surroundings and the reliable seventeen syllable haiku. With that, @urban.haiku was born, an Instagram page where the actress’ comedic timing can shine unchecked. (Her personal Instagram, @cddthatsme, is worth exploring too. It’s full of gorgeous model-ready photos of the actress; photos we can imagine in the marketing for whatever new Netflix show is in the works.) This poetry account is still relatively new, with just a handful of posts and followers in the double digits. But we have a feeling these haikus are about to blow up in a big way. Acting is still Doyle’s primary focus, but poetry never asks you to audition. And we love that.