amwriting, Instagram, Instapoets, more poetry, put more poetry into the world, self-publishing, social media, traditional vs. non-traditional publishing, trying new things, trying something new, writing, writing about abuse
I want to tell you everything and nothing.
I wrote this post for the Center for Creative Writing’s blog (I write and teach there) in response to the NYT article about the Instapoets. I don’t want to be an Instapoet, but I do want to explore ways of putting poetry–mine, yours, my literary forebears dead and living–into the world in non-traditional ways, because the traditional ways are less than desirable most of the time.
I don’t want to waste page/screen time on preparing dozens of submissions. I want to read lit mags bc reading is the best, not bc “researching possible markets.” Ugh. I don’t want my most personal abuse writing to be rejected. There, I said it. I’m not there yet. Even talking about abuse = facing rejection, the form of not being believed, being belittled, being shamed. Even the subtle curled lip of, “This topic is unsavory, can we please change the subject?” is rejection. I have a pretty thick skin when it comes to my writing. My abuse survivor skin is not so thick yet…but my voice is strong and doesn’t crack or shake.
I would grab your face and make you listen, if not to my story then the millions of other similar stories out there, except face-grabbing is mildly violent and I don’t roll like that. I don’t face-grab unless I’m kissing you.
(By the way, I want my poems to feel like I’m face-grabbing you, and you don’t know if I’m gonna smack sense into you or kiss you, until I do both.)
I love Instagram because I love when images can speak for themselves. Introvert with occasional, short-lived bursts of social energy, right here. I want to talk every day, but since I can only manage one blog post a week, I’m looking to what I’ve already written and thinking, maybe I could share this? Or that? Am I ready to say THAT?
So I kinda want to Instagram poems. I love when other poets do this. I love scrolling through my Insta-feed and seeing pages from your books, or your friends’ books, or your presses’ books. I love seeing your book covers and blurbs. Honestly, I wish there was a purely literary Instagram because I would follow everyone. Then again, I kinda like seeing a poem, followed by a perfectly poured craft beer, then your kid dressed as a porcupine for Halloween, then a book cover, then some fall leaves, then your latest wine cork DIY craft, then something that makes me think WTAF is that?!, then an artsy B&W selfie where your eyes look like quartz…
How to not make Instagraming my poems a gross exercise in narcissism, but an offering?
How to not make my blog posts a gross exercise in narcissism and whining?
How to find this balance between knowing when to speak and when to stay silent–no, between knowing when I actually want to speak or not.
You know, so I can finally stop boring you with blog posts on this topic.
Here’s where I seem to be landing: 1) Maybe not whole poems, but a few lines that feel right on a given day. 2) Maybe handwritten, not typed lines. and 3) Maybe one of mine and one of someone else’s, per week.
That wouldn’t feel so gross, I think.
What do you think? At what point does social media self-pubbing stop being a genuine effort to put more poetry into the world (and god forbid, get a few readers and maybe have a conversation) and start being an ego trip, a commercial endeavor, a cheapening of art? Love to know your thoughts.
PS–Even though I think Thanksgiving is the worst of those holidays when Americans pretend our history isn’t violent, bloody, and unbearably arrogant–not to mention, capitalist above all else–I still sincerely hope you enjoy your meal, your time with family and friends, any days off work you might get, and safe travels. Be well.
PPS–This post would’ve been better with a pic, right? See? Instagram! I’m @shapeshifter43, and you?