In·ter·punct shares book reviews, art news, lit theory and daily musings from the intimate lives of writers. It seeks to highlight, in an edgy and sprightly fashion, the poetic moments that punctuate our lives.
“One out of Ten Americans Is a Poetry Lover” by Shayna S. Israel
The next time you go to the grocery store, look around: For every 10 people you see, one of them is a poetry lover. The National Endowment for the Arts found that poetry readership, in the last half decade, doubled . In 2012, 6.7% of Americans reported reading a poem, and now, in 2017, that number has climbed to 11.7% (Survey of Public Participation in the Arts).
Colin Dwyer, in an article for NPR titled “Poetry Is Making A Big Comeback In The U.S., Survey Results Reveal,” writes that in order “to find a comparable interest in poetry, you have to reach back to 2002, when the number of adults reading poetry narrowly cleared the 12 percent threshold” .
Many have attributed the rise in poetry readership to social media, particularly the proliferation of Instapoetry--poetry done on Instagram. The Academy of American Poets remarks that poets are amassing tens of thousands of social media followers. That includes poets like Rupi Kaur (2.7 million Instagram followers), Clint Smith (220,000 Twitter followers), Sarah Kay (67,600 Twitter followers); Andrea Gibson (38,600 Instagram followers), Kaveh Akbar (27,300 Twitter followers), and Danez Smith (24,300 Twitter followers) . (See Plurality Press’ earlier post about the popularity of Instapoetry).
I, too, would agree that platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have contributed to a resurgence of poetry among mainstream audiences. Yet, may I add this one point of consideration: Is it that social media made possible poetry’s resurgence or is social media a marker or imprint of an already increasing desire for poetry in our modern lives?
With so much of our media being relegated to echo chambers, there could be a feeling of protracted isolation in how we make sense of our lives and the world around us. Poetry makes sense then. It’s communal. It’s a meaning making place where we all can, once again, meet.
May I add one other thing: For the last 20 years, poetry has been recycling back into our lives--after a couple of long stints in the academy--via the efforts of everyday people and advocacy groups who refused to believe poetry was a dying art.
Sarah Trombetta, in “Poetry Is More Popular Than Ever…,” writes, “Social media poets aren’t the only ones helping to revive the art form,” and that there are also a number invaluable organizations and programs dedicated to sharing poetry and increasing its interests among readers . That groundswell of effort, I believe, is part of what social media is helping to mark.
Social media also marks the efforts of another invisible caste--small publishers and your friendly neighborhood poetry reading.
So, to all of you reciting poetry to your friends in your dorm rooms, buying your neighbor’s book of poems that took him 15 years to write, going to monthly spoken word events--thank you. The new poetry readership stats, marks a victory for poetry lovers everywhere.
In·ter·punct shares interviews, expositions, poems and daily musings from the intimate lives of writers. Like the interpunct, which is a middot used to separate syllables, this blog seeks to highlight, in an edgy and sprightly fashion, the poetic moments that punctuate our lives.