The Rise of Popular Poetry

By Bethany Fischer on April 14, 2021

“Popular poetry” are two words that many people never would have thought would be brought together to describe a booming art form that is taking the media by storm. What was once thought by many to be a dying art is being revitalized in exciting ways by members of popular media. Popular poetry is introducing strangers of the art form to a beautiful world of metaphor and meditation that has been locked away in niche groups for hundreds of years. With inspiration taken from staples of the art form like Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou, Robert Frost, and Elizabeth Bishop, the new creators of popular poetry have given new life into an art that is all about experience, expression, and viewing the world from a new lens.

While many readers may struggle to identify popular poetry in their daily consumption of media, the truth is that popular poetry is all around us! Popular poetry is being weaved into media in many different ways, from published books to visual albums, to the ever-growing “instapoet” niche on Instagram. The following examples only scratch the surface of an entertainment genre that continues to expand across multimedia platforms.

1. Amanda Gorman

This past election was once for the books for so many incredible reasons. However, the breakout star from the 2020 presidential inauguration was by far the emotionally charged performance of the National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman. Her poem “The Hill We Climb” expressed a longing for unity and togetherness that many feel has been glaringly absent from recent society. As the youngest poet to present original work at an inaugural address, Amanda Gorman so much for popular poetry in the span of only five minutes.

After her performance, her books of poetry took the #1 and #2 spots on several bestsellers lists, including Amazon and Barnes and Nobel. Her spoken word performance brought millions of views on several YouTube channels, and the exposure earned her the honor of the first poet to ever be featured on the cover of Vogue magazine. What was once an art form enjoyed by specific groups of literary fanatics has now become accessible to call consumers of popular media thanks to Gorman’s evocative performance and dedication to her craft.

2. Beyonce’s Visual Album Lemonade

International pop star, Beyonce, stunned the world with her 2016 release of the critically acclaimed album Lemonade, which topped music charts around the globe and was dubbed “Album of the Decade” by many critics. What was already an amazing musical experience transcended the likes of pop culture when she dropped the visual companion Beyonce: Lemonade, on HBO.

While the film was meant as a visual representation of the music, Beyonce used popular poetry to enhance the experience and touch viewers further than music can do alone. With poetry adapted by Somali-British poet Warsan Shire, Beyonce exposed popular poetry to millions of her adoring fans in a unique and consumable way. After the airing of the film, the young poet saw an 800% percent increase in her poetry sales and earned herself top spots on British and International bestsellers lists. Since 2016, her popular poetry has brought her success in her field as she was named the youngest person to ever be inducted into the Royal Society of Literature.

3. Halsey

Another pop star breaking grounds in the world of popular poetry is Halsey, with the 2020 publication of her book “I Would Leave Me If I Could.” Known for her emotionally compelling songs that are often written in part or in whole by her, Halsey joined the world of popular poetry with heartwrenching poems about mental illness, sexuality, relationships, and power.

Publishing these works as poems instead of songs brought a new wave of readers into the realm of popular poetry, igniting new interest and passion in young writers and readers across the nation. The platinum-selling artist earned herself the new title of “New York Time’s Best Seller” with her work of poetry and is now lauded as a musician and author alike. While she is not the first musician to publish successful works of poetry, she has joined a prestigious league of poets that handcrafted their own popular poetry and gifted it to unsuspecting consumers who are now enjoying the genre for the very first time.

4. Instapoetry

Perhaps the most interesting occurrence to be birthed from popular poetry is the rise of the “instapoet.” A unique niche that values visual aesthetics alongside the written words, “instapoetry” encompasses poetry written and designed for the internet and, more specifically, Instagram. While reviews are mixed by literary critics, the beauty of “instapoetry” is less about its contribution to high art and more about the exposure it brings to popular poetry. This niche, which sees over 4 million pieces of content filed under its tag on Instagram alone, challenges artists to explore a new poetic medium and gets new writers involved in an art form they may have never considered.

Much of the dismay surrounding poetry is its inability to keep readers interested across pages and pages of stanzas. Instapoetry has found a modern solution to this problem by becoming a space for short-form poetry that is also visually pleasing. Instapoetry has also found commercial success with artists like Rupi Kaur and her award-winning collection “Milk and Honey.” Her instapoetry found space on top of the New York Time’s Best Sellers list and also earned her an invitation to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Regardless of your opinion of the quality of work, it is hard to argue against the contribution her success has had on not only instapoetry but popular poetry as a whole.


Poetry has been a beloved art form for centuries, but many are just now becoming acquainted. From presidential inaugurations to films, to Grammy-nominated musicians, and social media platforms, popular poetry has become a loved form of art that touches the heart and soul as much as it entertains. Recent contributions to popular poetry have breathed new life into a medium that was once rarely cherished by the masses.

Many writing teachers have told me that “you don’t get into poetry to make money or have commercial success.” This is true in the sense that most good artists make art to better their souls and the souls that consume their work. However, with the rise of popular poetry in today’s society, poetry has become an artistic endeavor that can bring success and accolades to those brave enough to share their work with the world.

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