CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, CreateSpace (Firm), Poetry -- Self-publishing, Poetry and the Internet, Book industry -- Digital humanities
Why do fans of Instapoetry buy printed versions of exactly the same poems they can get in the Instagram app for free? Why buy what they already have?
The answer to this question wends through immigration offices and CreateSpace automated book publishing software, through an ocean of likes, reposts, hashtags and comments, and plants a flag onto bestseller lists with such unambiguous force that almost half (47 percent) of poetry books sold in the United States in 2017 were written by Instapoets. Here’s the same awesome metric in different terms: twelve of 2017’s top twenty bestselling poetry books -- 60% -- were by Instapoets. In 2012, Instapoetry didn’t exist. It is a publishing industry disruptor par excellence.
As an artform, Instapoetry lacks most of the attributes readers of print-based poetry associate with poems. Instapoetry is semantically simple. Some say it's banal, even opportunist, more like branded content than an artwork freestanding from a cult of personality. To what extent does the legacy of literary modernism influence what counts as "poetry" today? Is the "slow reading" necessitated by richly allusive, complex, text-only poetry an artifact of print culture? Modernist poetry resisted the ways technologies like automobiles, telegrams, typewriters, ticker tape, and cinema speeded up culture. What to make of poetry -- Instagram and otherwise -- in a faster age powered by inhumanly fast computers and byte-sized attention snacks?
Berens, Kathi Inman, "Instapoetry Matters" (2018). English Faculty Publications and Presentations. 33.