By: Amanda Winstead
“A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him.”―
You aren’t alone if every time you think of poetry, Hemingway, Whitman, Shakespeare, or Dickinson comes to mind. These poets and others from the past are responsible for us becoming accustomed to reading poems a few times over before really grasping the message and how we feel reading it. But the art of poetry has since evolved.
As old as poetry is, it’s never left. Instead, how it’s expressed and utilized grows.
This new generation of artists modernizes poetry, making it one of the most influential art forms. Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent trends in poetry today.
A Surge in Spoken Word
Many people still enjoy opening up a poetry book and diving into the written word. At the same time, poets today are reviving spoken word, and it’s surging in popularity. If you knew nothing about spoken word, you did after watching the inaugural poem of 2021 by Amanda Gorman.
She didn’t just write a poem on paper; she performed it with fluid movements and a bold voice.
Although spoken word poetry has been around since the 1960s, the success of young poets like Gorman encouraged even more people to find out what this genre is all about. As a result, more and more spoken word artists are emerging and continuing the narrative that poetry is much more than the written word.
Spoken word and poetry, in general, have been able to make such a huge comeback partly because of social media and music.
The Influence on Poetry in Social Media and Music
Social media has been incredibly beneficial to many of us. Even if we’re thousands of miles apart, we can stay connected. We can reach and interact with people worldwide, and poets are taking full advantage of the ready-made platform for their work. They’re also inventing new types of poetry that social media savvy readers love.
For instance, there has been a rise in what we now call Instagram poets. This particular social media trend gave birth to a genre of poets who use a specific simple structure that resonates well with Instagram users and short-form poetry readers. Jamal Cadoura, Rupi Kaur, Cleo Wade, and Atticus are some influential Instagram poets.
Social media has given poets everywhere an opportunity to make a name for themselves or simply share their work with a broader audience.
Poetry’s comeback can also be attributed to music, mainly hip hop and rap. These artists focus more and more on communicating messages about deeper issues through their music, like prison reform, economic injustices, racial tension, and misuse of political power. So, songwriting’s roots in poetry and learning ways to evoke imagery and emotion through wordplay are returning to the forefront.
Hip hop and rap artists are fusing poetry and songwriting to express more profound messages in their music.
Poetry Improves Social and Cultural Awareness
Poetry’s impact on social and cultural awareness has also evolved. This world has been through a lot. The COVID-19 pandemic, police violence, racial injustices, and political unrest have touched all of us worldwide, but they are only a few issues concerning people.
And we’ve all experienced these things differently. Fortunately, many are sharing their stories with hopes of uniting us, and many people are using poetry as their platform for reform.
Poetry is such a raw form of expression, making it the perfect genre for sharing various perspectives on various topics. Additionally, poets use their work as a way to bring specific issues to light. As a result, readers have an opportunity to empathize with other people and cultures while simultaneously developing emotional intelligence, whether intentional or not.
Strengthening Your Connections
Without emotional intelligence, we’re unable to connect with people of differing backgrounds. Poetry is so influential in strengthening emotional intelligence because it prompts self-reflection, empathy, communication, gratitude, and connection. All in all, more people are walking around in this world with deep respect and appreciation for cultural, social, and other differences because of poetry today.
Poetry has also become a valuable outlet for those living with mental health challenges or helping us understand social issues.
Creating an Outlet for Mental Health Challenges
In earlier times, poetry was primarily classified as a form of entertainment. Even some poets didn’t connect writing poetry and an improved mental and emotional state. Still, even if they couldn’t verbalize it, poets and readers knew poetry was helping them in some way.
Nowadays, we’re normalizing conversations about mental health and making a huge push to help people navigate challenges. Whether encouraged by a therapist or found through self-education, writing poetry and reading it are becoming popular outlets for people living with mental health challenges.
For instance, millions of people are living with an anxiety disorder. They’re unable to control many of their feelings, and this interferes with their daily lives. Some of the most common anxiety disorders that exist today are:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Separation anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
The best way to treat anxiety disorders is by going to see a therapist or counselor. Aside from medication, they often treat anxiety by encouraging their patients to write or journal. Many simply write about their day-to-day life and what they think is causing their bouts with anxiety.
Poetry: The Power of Simple Words
Others are using poetry to express their negative and positive feelings about living with a mental illness. Of course, it’s not always easy to put your thoughts and feelings into complete sentences and structured paragraphs. However, most people can string together a few powerful words or phrases that capture the emotions and experiences of mental illness, thus birthing poetry.
Ultimately, we’re seeing how poetry has the power to help people express and manage their mental health issues.
As we acknowledge poetry’s comeback and its place in today’s world, we must give special attention to its becoming more inclusive. Shane Koyczan sums up the feelings and thoughts of many people who experienced bullying. From his TED talk, “I’ve been shot down so many times I get altitude sickness just from standing up for myself,” he says, beginning today’s talk. “That’s what we were told—stand up for yourself. But that’s hard to do if you don’t know who you are.” His poems are innovative and resonate with many.
Since poetry is no longer limited to words on paper but encompasses so many different forms, types, techniques, there is bound to be conflict over what constitutes “real poetry.”
Unfortunately, poets continue to feud over definitions instead of embracing the diversity of poetry and types of poems.
Poetry: Continually Evolving
Poetry’s comeback and evolution today are exciting. Poetry is:
- Spoken word, free verse, acrostic, shape poetry, and blackout poetry
- Educational, Entertaining, and Enchanting
- Creating viable connections between people
- Relieving feelings of isolation
However you view poetry’s comeback, know that it will continue to evolve as more people see the benefits of poetry.
Bio: Amanda Winstead
Amanda Winstead is a writer from the Portland area with a background in communications and a passion for telling stories. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts.
If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.
Other posts by Amanda Winstead:
Two Drops of Ink: The Home of Collaborative Writing
Do you need an additional platform for your poetry, prose, or problem-solving posts? Then consider a guest post today. Here are the guidelines.