April 11, 2009
The Facebook poets: ten rising stars of British poetry
The market for new poetry is small; it is not bought and sold like modern art, or hankered after by the very wealthy. In fact, if you consider poetry by brutal commercial rules, it is a miracle it exists at all. Yet not only does poetry exist, it is flourishing – and not just among the grand old oaks of literary society, but in the grassroots of bohemia. New, young writers are using poetry to break rules and free themselves creatively.
Many credit the internet for bringing youthful poetic creativity out of bedrooms and private notebooks and into the light. Since 2003, when the internet had finally found its way into the majority of households, submissions to both the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award and the Poetry Book Society have doubled. And the website Poetryarchive.org now gets one million hits a month.
More recently, Facebook has made it joyfully easy for young poets, typically shy of announcing their poetic proclivities to anyone, to find each other. The Wolf magazine, for example, edited by James Byrne and published three times a year, has its own Facebook page, which encourages submissions by e-mail. “You can’t be too traditional these days,” says Byrne. “And the internet is the best way of communicating with readers all over the world – it massively increases your audience.”