Ever since the rise of Rupi Kaur, poetry has become a competition.
You see it with the #poet accounting for 5,584,465 posts on IG.
It’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong. But it seems that with each new poem, there is yet another name to follow associated with it.
Gone are the days that poets write poetry for poetry’s sake?
Or maybe our culture likes to speak with an @ symbol before our names or -(name here)-?
A poem, called earth:
A shoebox filled with dirt and worms.
Garbage piled on top.
A tree grows.
That was a poem for people who have compost piles in their backyard or outside their apartment doors.
So why is poetry dead?
Because during a conversation with a Santa Monica college counselor who happened to get her Masters in Counseling, I inquired about her weekend plans.
She responded with an amazing Friday night. An establishment, Savoy, has a slam every Friday where poets get up on stage and an artist accompanies them to paint, dance, or do anything necessary to portray the words as they feel them through performance.
Naturally, I was like “Wow, I want to go!” and continued to press about if she wrote poetry.
Her response was “I used to, but I’m not very good, so I leave it to the poets.”
“That’s bullshit” I thought in my head. How can a 20-something year old consider themselves not good enough, and “the competition” too good for her to not express herself as she so (damn) please.
“In my eyes, anyone who declares themselves a poet is a poet” I responded. “It’s those who breathe it, do they find it to be their lives.”
Just because you are not getting paid, or have thousands of followers, or any other popularity contest metrics do you have to step down from poetry. (where is that @Medium green highlighter that I see people use all the time… anyways, remember that please and thank you :))
However, if you expect that because you go write poetry, tag a name, and post everyday will you achieve financial reward or fame, you are mistaken.
Rupi Kaur is Rupi Kaur for a reason.
Go find your own lane…