I have picked up copies of books by Rupi Kaur and Lang Leav and leafed through them. Like the alliteration of ‘Lang Leave and leafed,’ I am not convinced by their quality. Actually, I’m pretty convinced of their quality and don’t think they have much. I have seen, in magazine articles, screen shots of work by other ‘instapoets’ and it has made me think that the genre as a whole is pretty lacking.
I also don’t have much affection for slam poetry. If we are ranking these things, slam poetry ranks orders of magnitude above instapoetry in my estimation.
Me? I learn and comprehend best through interaction with the written word. I like to read, is what I’m saying. More than that, reading is how I engage in dialogue with the world around me.
So neither forms are really aimed at folks like me.
And I really don’t know what to say nor what to add to the current kerfuffle over instapoets and, to a lesser extent (mostly because of this article, which singled out a particular, recently published in book form, slam poet), slam poets. It’s not the first kerfuffle and it won’t be the last. Or, more likely, it’s all the same kerfuffle, which has been going on for a couple of years, at least.
But my two cents. It’s not good poetry. I haven’t read deeply into the genre, but I feel like I’m on pretty solid ground. Both in terms of my critical evaluation of what I have read and as regards the follow up question as to whether I’ve read enough to form a valid opinion.
But… I’m glad poetry is selling. I didn’t think the poetry collection by the singer, Jewel, was very good either (though, of course, I listened to her first album constantly in the mid-nineties and nursed a mild crush on her in my early twenties). But I believe that having read one poem, people may read another. Having bought one book, they may buy another.
Also, though we may feel resentful that someone has achieved success with what we believe to be pretty shoddy work, most of these folks are in their twenties and I think we must forgive people their awful youthful poetry, even if it does get published, sell in the millions, and make them rich. And we should try not to be too bitter about it.