Approaching the world of an instapoem

Critical Writing
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2021
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Instapoetry is entangled in the ecology of Instagram and the digital media ecology at large, which despite instapoetry’s very conservative output (images of text or images with textual elements), still has caused questions regarding how to approach it. While a lot of poetry on Instagram is simply images of poetry remediated on the social media, there also exist a type of platform literature, or platform poetry, which in this paper is treated as instapoetry proper. With instapoetry proper the intent of publishing it on Instagram is something that affects how we should approach it aesthetically. From a media ecological and posthumanist perspective; while we use social media to do things, it also affects how we do things.

 

In this paper I will present and argue for my proposed definition of instapoetry proper, which is poetry created with the intention of being an Instagram post published in Instagram. This definition is meant to work as a way to combat textual as well as media blindness when approaching an instapoem for the close reading of it. I will show that the creation of instapoetry is closely tied with the creation of Instagram posts and the use of social media in general, which among other things includes the editing and filtering of the everyday to become extraordinary. With instapoetry, this means creating a literary experience of an Instagram post where you approach the poem first by looking at it. I will show this by close reading different examples of instapoetry from both an established instapoet, the Norwegian instapoet Alexander Fallo, and from someone in the gray area between hobby writer/amateur/Instagram user and established instapoet.

 

This paper will touch upon how the digital environment, or rather, the digital ecologies of which instapoetry exist in, offer a different type of literary experience when the poem is intended as an instagram. While perhaps not being born digital poetry, it is never the less born into the digital. This is relevant because it shows how the situatedness of the authors and the poetry requires adjusted close readings of this type of poetry, where the poetic work – understood in encompassing more than just the (digitally) printed word depicted in the image – needs to be read as what it is intended to be. Even if the remediations of instapoetry into printed works might lure us into thinking we can continue with our old ways of close reading poetry. Which in some cases might be too tied to the print ecologies of our contemporary world and thus cause unintended textual and media blindness to new non-avant garde works, such as the pop poetry of instapoetry.

 

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Cecilie Klingenberg