Poetry in Popular Culture: Instagram, Rupi Kaur, Feminism and the Utilitarian Value of Poetry

Authors

  • Dubravka Đurić University Singidunum, Belgrade, Serbia
  • Aleksandra Izgarjan Faculty of Philosophy, University of Novi Sad, Serbia

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v17i4.10

Keywords:

poetry, Instagram, media culture, neoliberalism, feminism, remediation, utilitarian value of poetry

Abstract

In order to explain the popularity of Instagram poetry, and of the Instapoet Rupi Kaur in particular, we have positioned it within the contemporary context of the changing poetic field, the context of popular media culture and the consumer society of late neoliberal capitalism. From a complex language construction requiring in its reception an educated reader, poetry has become simple, communicative and accessible to all. At a time when neoliberal capitalism appropriates, absorbs and alters every marginal practice, adjusting it to its needs, poetry has acquired a utilitarian value. The most interesting example of this utilitarian value can be found in the poems of Rupi Kaur, a Canadian poet with a South Asian background. Her poetry functions as self-help literature. Kaur defines herself as a feminist, which we have positioned within the context of neoliberal feminism, which has features in common with postfeminism and celebrity feminism. Postfeminism is a blend of feminist and antifeminist world views, and has contributed to the construction of new femininity. In the contemporary late neoliberal age it acquires a significant form in hyperfemininity as an unquestionable ideal omnipresent in the media, which all women must aspire to in order to be accepted by society. Kaur’s Instapoetry has appropriated feminist (intersectional) ideas for its (neoliberal) objectives. She provides advice on how to overcome painful relationship breakups, violence, racism, misogyny, the patriarchy and classism. This is realized through the use of formulas offered by New Age alternative spirituality. It is this spirituality that has been absorbed by neoliberal capitalism and incorporated into all aspects of services, in order to make the ruthless exploitation of workers in precarious jobs more bearable. Remediation is characteristic of Instapoetry. Poets use old and new media: drawings, handwriting or typewriting, photography, which is mediated by the digital technology of Instagram. In addition, they perform live in front of an audience, and an analysis of Rupi Kaur’s performances clearly shows that these are mass media events; thus Instapoetry can be understood as a specific form of popular media culture intended for a mass audience.

 

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Published

2022-12-30

How to Cite

Đurić, Dubravka, and Aleksandra Izgarjan. 2022. “Poetry in Popular Culture: Instagram, Rupi Kaur, Feminism and the Utilitarian Value of Poetry”. Etnoantropološki Problemi / Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 17 (4):1361–1378. https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v17i4.10.