Poetry, arguably the most beautiful form of literary expression, has been around for as long as history itself. But, in this age of social media and commercialisation, what has poetry evolved to?
Poetry is a form of literature that strings words together, heavily using literary devices, symbolism, and emotive language. It is an art form as old as language itself: the earliest poetry has been believed to have been sung and recited verbally to remember law, history or genealogy. Gradually, it evolved into a form of emotive self-expression: talking about love, pride, anger, sadness, beauty and everything else you could feel.
French poet Paul Valery once said that while prose is walking, poetry is dancing. The freedom to explore, that the art form gives to its audience, is its most striking feature; possibly the most important reason for the rise in its popularity. From the court poets of the Mughal Era to Slam Poetry meetings of the modern times, Poetry has come a long way.
Poetry has always had the tag of elitism and complexity attached to it. The poetry circles of the medieval ages and the commissions by the royalty to artists and poets have made poetry associated with the nobility.
But, like every other product in a capitalist world, poetry, too, has undergone commercialisation and a change in its consumption.
So, poetry isn’t anything new; accessibility to it is, though. Humans are social animals, and all we ever want is to connect and be understood. In the age of internet and isolation, when there’s a lack of depth in interpersonal relationships, poetry has become a platform people connect to.
Through blogs, online poetry groups, Instagram poets, and slam poetry, poetry has been made accessible to the masses. Poetry, stripped to its core, is just words strung together aesthetically and what makes it attractive is its subjectivity: the understanding of a poem completely depends on the reader. With the internet, a blog post or an Instagram/Twitter update can get you an audience of millions. A very well-known example of the is the famous poet Rupi Kaur. She’s one of the only few poets in recent years to have made it big commercially and has made poetry popular in common perception as well.
“Rupi Kaur seems to be like an oasis the desert of poetry. Honey and Milk have nourished poetry in modern days,” said Priyanshi Banerjee, a first-year student at Lady Sri Ram College.
However, what this age of Instagram poetry and commercialisation has also done is bring about a compromise in its quality. Poetry is produced in easy, consumable bites, and it becomes a tool of gathering ‘likes’ and validation, rather than a true expression of the self. For internet aesthetics, the essence of the art itself might get neglected.
“I have personally never enjoyed Rupi Kaur’s work and never will, there must be people out there who do enjoy that, good for them. I feel that looking at how many much more talented poets died broke and penniless, Rupi Kaur is much more popular and commercially successful because of the internet and because her poetry does not pose any questions, it’s a few short lines on something all of us agree on, there’s no thinking involved when you read her poetry, and that’s why it might appeal to so many people,” says Prabhanu, a first-year student of Kirori Mal College.
“I feel that Rupi Kaur lacks truth, cause few of her verses are from a privileged position. But, on the other hand, it’s her choice to choose her subjects,” adds Chhavi, a first-year student of Sri Venkateswara College.
But I think that’s the beauty in the freedom this art form provides; it is so incredibly forgiving and accepting. No one truly has the power to dictate what poetry is, not when a million others are doing it a million different ways.
Feature Image Credits: Sarthak Singhal for DU Beat