Sunday, November 8, 2015

Online Poetry Revival?

Mr. Gregson belongs to a new generation of young, digitally astute poets whose loyal online followings have helped catapult them onto the best-seller lists, where poetry books are scarce. These amateur poets are not winning literary awards, and most have never been in a graduate writing workshop.

Instead, their appeal lies in the unpolished flavor of their verses, which often read as if they were ripped from the pages of a diary. And their poems are reaching hundreds of thousands of readers, attracting the attention of literary agents, editors and publishers, and overturning poetry’s longstanding reputation as a lofty art form with limited popular appeal.

The rapid rise of Instapoets probably will not shake up the literary establishment, and their writing is unlikely to impress literary critics or purists who might sneer at conflating clicks with artistic quality. But they could reshape the lingering perception of poetry as a creative medium in decline.
Poetry’s resurgence is hardly assured. The percentage of Americans who said they read poetry fell to 6.7 percent in 2012, from 12 percent in 2002, according to a report by the National Endowment for the Arts.

But the death spiral may be slowing. A YouTube channel for spoken-word poetry, Button Poetry, has nearly 430,000 subscribers, and the Academy of American Poets reaches more than 350,000 readers with its digital “Poem-a-Day” series.

Some established poets say the appetite for poetry on social media has benefited the entire field, not just newcomers, and has opened up avenues for writers who most likely would have struggled to find a publisher.

“You’re no longer dependent on the gatekeepers,” said Don Share, the editor of Poetry magazine. “It’s a great podium for poets who otherwise might seem to the mainstream culture to be marginalized.”

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