Recently, as I was perusing the poetry section of a Barnes and Noble, I was surprised to come across a section containing volumes by Rupi Kaur, Lang Leav, r. h. sin, and the like. My surprise was not at seeing these collections standing shoulder-to-shoulder with those by Keats and Lorca but at the fact that the sight so resembled the shelves of poetry I’d seen a few weeks earlier at an Anthropologie. These “Instapoets,” as they’ve been called, seem to be everywhere, like a plague of clichés, unpunctuated verse, and ill-timed line breaks. These poets have huge social media followings — take Kaur, for example, who with 1.5 million Instagram followers seems to be the most popular. Kaur first garnered attention when she posted a picture on Instagram of herself in bed on her period, menstrual stains on her pants and bedsheets.
Admittedly, during times of intense crisis or panic, most people aren’t running around asking what the poets think. My own interpretation of this fact is not that people don’t care what poets have to say. It’s rather that they don’t believe in any reason for listening to them (a faulty judgement that I suppose amounts to the same result). If we experience social upheaval, for example, what good would reading Wordsworth do? If we encounter history in palpable manifestations, why read a poet to understand that history?
Sun Story Sundays is taking a quick pivot this week, featuring poetry instead of fiction. Guess everything in the world has been turned on its head, huh? Submissions can be sent to email@example.com. The audio component of this story can be found here.
William Martin stated: “Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life.” Yet it can be difficult to discover new meaning and inspiration within the mundane aspects of everyday life. If I were to profusely read poems by Billy Collins and Robert Frost, perhaps for a cycle I may be inspired by their pastoral descriptions of our natural world to appreciate the multiplicity of hues which color Ithaca’s trees or the torrential gorges as I walk over the suspension bridge. But eventually, I lose the wonder of these sights and remain trapped in the routine of prelims, homework and sleepless nights. But after hearing poet Chris Abani read and perform several of his own compositions this past Thursday, I found the new awe, joy and magnificence within my daily life, including my 2:30 a.m. walks back from Olin library.
“The MacDonald’s Man” folds the highbrow seriousness of literature in on itself. People come out and denounce it not as a poem, but as “good poetry.” Well I do think it’s a good poem, but for different reasons.
Four years after his revered and still-bumped Channel ORANGE, R&B singer/enigma Frank Ocean has finally put out two follow-up projects: Endless and Blonde. Frank Ocean fans from the Arts & Entertainment section reflected on the albums: Were they worth the wait? Will they ascend to the same level of praise of Channel ORANGE? Chris Stanton: I had a friend make the mistake recently of criticizing Blond(e) to me, arguing that the hype around the album combined with Frank’s general aura of mystery had led to reactionary praise — longtime fans and casual passerby alike loudly proclaiming their hosannas to prove that they totally get art, man. Call it a product of spontaneous album releases or the performativity of social media, but the immediate public response to this sprawling project (TWO albums???
Members of the Ithaca community shared their experiences with race and socioeconomic status at a poetry slam held in Bear’s Den. Slamming Stigma: Beyond Skin Deep was hosted as part of the Intergroup Dialogue Project, a program that aims to increase Cornell students’ understanding of social identities and inequalities.