10 steps to becoming an Instapoet
Finding inspiration in the every day. (Photo: Joel Tang)

10 steps to becoming an Instapoet

Writing poetry requires talent – a penchant for rumination, sensitivity to one’s surroundings and feelings, and the ability to create something that will spark the imagination of readers.

Sounds tough? Fret not. The rise of Instapoetry, a genre of pithy poetry popularised on Instagram, has made it easier for people to discover and hone their talent as poets.

Famous examples of Instapoets include Rupi Kaur, who has amassed millions of followers since she started posting her poems on social media in 2013, and New Zealander Lang Leav, a former Thai refugee, who has half-a-million followers on Instagram.

Life isn’t so bad if one can write about it and get likes.

We asked the Poetry Festival director Eric Tinsay Valles to share 10 tips for aspiring Instapoets. Read on for his advice.

1. Practise empathy
Like you, the reader is mired in some trauma. Be their voice. Encourage, as critic Cathy Caruth does, a “rethinking of reference” – giving their experience a place in the present.

2. Write about something familiar
Write about your joys and sorrows, heartaches and hang-ups, being with your family or without them. Be authentic.

3. Use imagery
It will help engage the visual reader (which Instagram user isn’t?). It might also conjure up emotions in the reader that might be like that complex one you are describing. Isn’t that an engine of Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey project?

4. Use symbols or references from pop culture
They might resonate with the reader.

5. Write in a compact way
Give pithy advice. The Instagram reader seems to like aphorisms and feel-good slogans.

6. Put a positive spin on things
Make the reader do good and avoid evil. Your average reader wants to be better. That is why he or she is reading your work instead of playing a computer game.

7. Respond to events and movements
This is another way to make the reader relate to your work.

8. Be ironic sometimes
It will make a poem interesting enough for the Instagram reader to pause, think and reread it.

9. Choose a pleasant, intriguing illustration or photo to accompany your verses
Make that contribute to the story you are telling or the emotion that you wish to convey.

10. If you want to be true to yourself, don’t be a hack
Don’t chase Insta-fame and work on your craft as a poet. Your voice can echo well beyond social media and the present moment.

We put the 10 tips to the test; this happened. Bonus tip: Never stop trying.


Details about the Poetry Festival Singapore here.

We can’t wait to share more awesome content with you. This is going to be so much fun.

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