“if i write what you may feel but cannot say. it does not make me a poet. it makes me a bridge. and i am humbled and i am grateful to assist your heart in speaking.” — Nayyirah Waheed
Social media might have 99 problems, but helping resurrect the art of poetry isn’t one of them.
Although poetry never died, it has been hidden away on dusty book shelves, shared in small cafes and classrooms, written on napkins, and even made appearances on the occasional bathroom stall.
But now, people have rekindled their love for poetry in a big way, and social media is to thank.
Poets such as Nayyirah Waheed, Warsan Shire, Rupi Kaur, Lang Leav and r.h. Sin are leading the frenzy. With hundreds of thousands (and, in some cases, millions) of followers on their pages, these poets have changed the face of modern-day poetry by bringing attention to new ways of telling stories, through relatable and easy to read content.
Poetry’s re-emergence, however, goes beyond its social-media footprint. According to figures from Nielsen Book Research, poetry-book sales have gone up by 13 per cent, with a million poetry books sold in 2016.
In addition, cities such as Toronto have seen many emerging poets and storytellers too, because programming groups and community-based gatherings offer safe spaces for people to express themselves like never before; through workshops, open mic nights and other means of sharing art.
World Poetry Day was celebrated on March 21, and National Poetry Month is coming our way in April. A great way to celebrate is by supporting local poets and reading up on poetic content.
Scarborough’s RISE Edutainment is just one of the well-known community gatherings that showcase poetry as its lead form of expression. Others include Reclaim Your Voice and BAM! Toronto Youth Slam. And the Bad Girls Collective previously had a reading of Rupi Kaur’s milk and honey last November with hundreds in attendance.
It’s nice to have you back, poetry. You were missed.