If you haven’t heard of this community, I highly recommend checking it out ASAP. With a goal to “share what poetry means to the modern poet and reader,” Re:ad Poetry is space where modern poetry is celebrated, diversity welcomed and identity explored through this timeless genre.
Some may turn away from poetry, claiming it too confusing or too complicated, reminded of their high school days in English 101. But times have changed. Poetry is being explored and shared on social media, bringing a whole new generation up to speed on the power of words and the beauty of poetry.
I asked the Re:ad Poetry team, Patience Randle, Holly Stayton, Rachel Cooper and Jamie Chaplin, some questions about why we need poetry, what poets we should be reading right now and what to expect from this inclusive and exciting community. A very special thank you to all of them for sharing with our tribe!
I love the idea of dedicating an entire website and designing a community centered around poetry. Why poetry?
Thank you! We love poetry, and poetry is such a timeless medium because it can fit into any mold a poet puts it in. Right now the popular mold is a digital one. We work for a publishing company and publish over 50 modern poets, most of whom got their start on platforms like Tumblr and Instagram and built fan bases there. There’s already a community online that has existed for ten years or so centered around poetry—we just designed a platform that centralizes that community and (hopefully) works for the people who are already online and love poetry—a space for people to come and to share their experiences with one another via poetry. Plus, we think that most human beings crave connection, and not to sound like a broken record, but in a world where everything is online, why not find connection there, you know?
Why do you think we as a society need poetry? Do you think we need it now more than ever?
We think people have always needed poetry. For years it has been an outlet for people who felt they didn’t have a voice. There are plenty of people who are still marginalized, whose voices are ignored or not highlighted in the stories society tell us, and because of that poetry will always be necessary. It’s a genre that has led many revolutions, so we definitely need it now.
Does poetry have a “proper” definition? On social media especially, there is talk that Insta poets are not real poets and that they are kind of “ruining” the genre. What are your thoughts on poets on social media? Do you think poetry is gaining more popularity now that it is more accessible?
This is an often-discussed question, and everyone has an opinion, and that’s okay! Part of our philosophy is that poetry is what the reader makes it. If a reader wants to pick up a book of Emily Dickinson, and that to them is poetry, that’s amazing. If another person follows twenty poets on Instagram, and that work speaks to them and inspires them, why can’t that be poetry? We think that poetry is definitely more accessible than it’s ever been. We did a recent post on our blog with a quote from Jeanette Winterson that says “when people say that poetry is a luxury or an option, or for the educated middle class, or that it shouldn’t be read at school because it is irrelevant, or any of the strange things that are said about poetry and its place in our lives, I suspect that the people doing the saying have had things pretty easy. A tough life needs a tough language—and that is what poetry is.” We’re excited about the accessibility of poetry now.
What have been some of your favorite experiences at Re:ad Poetry since you have launched? Why is community so important, especially in the writing world?
The most exciting thing has been the community’s response to Read Poetry. We’ve had so many people reach out to us thanking us for creating a space where they feel welcomed and heard and connected, which is so special. We also received shout-outs from Ava Duvernay and Emma Roberts, which was so exciting.
As far as community goes, as we mentioned earlier, most people crave connection, and poetry—well all art, really—has this connective power that’s almost magical. When you see something that someone has written, and you think to yourself, “Hey. I went through that too,” it makes the world feel a little less lonely.
What do you want people to take away from Re:ad Poetry? Where do you hope to go in the future?
We hope that when you visit Read Poetry, you find, as poet K.Y. Robinson puts it, a “soft place to land.” We want people to find a place where they can feel seen and heard, and maybe that sounds cliche or simple, but that’s really what it comes down to.
We have big plans for the future of Read Poetry, which is so exciting! The most important thing, though, is that we are in constant conversation with our community and followers and catering to their needs and wants. Look out for an updated, more in-depth blog, more multimedia experiences, and perhaps some events.
Who should we be reading right now?!
There are four of us on the Read Poetry team, and our tastes vary from Charles Bukowski to Joy Harjo to Pablo Neruda to Rihanna. We are fans of trying new things though, so our advice would be to go to the poetry section at your local bookstore, pick out something you wouldn’t normally read, and open your mind and soul to inspiration. If you wouldn’t normally read poetry, that’s okay too! Just try it! We think it’s important for writers and readers to draw inspiration from everywhere.