Instagram poets like Rupi Kaur and Atticus have been polarizing forces in the literary world: on the one hand, they have millions of followers (and sell books in similar numbers); on the other, they tend to ignore existing poetic traditions, and pretty much everything else that print poets consider essential to the genre. So, is what they write really poetry? And according to whom? For the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet blog, poet and scholar Timothy Yu considers in greater depth the significance of these Instagram poets in the larger world(s) of contemporary poetry and writing, “It’s very easy to respond, as many have, by dismissing [Instagram poets] as ‘not real poets’ who pander to untutored readers. But isn’t there also a tinge of jealousy in our response? A sense that our work and the work of our peers should be recognized, and rewarded, by a larger audience? And an uncomfortable awareness of how small and closed our ‘actual’ poetry world can sometimes seem?”
New this week is Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk’s Silent House. Also hitting bookshelves are Heroines by Kate Zambreno, The News from Spain by Joan Wickersham, and more posthumously published work by Kurt Vonnegut. In non-fiction, there’s There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra by Chinua Achebe and Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winner Timothy Egan’s biography of Edward Curtis.
Our own Emily St. John Mandel is in conversation with Laura van den Berg over at the FSG blog. “We have such a mania for classification, don’t we? Everything just seems so black-or-white, one-or-zero, genre-or-literary sometimes, and I don’t think those divisions are especially helpful.” The authors are Year in Reading alumni, and you can check out Mandel’s and van den Berg’s posts at the respective links.