Which one is less taken?

Which one is less taken?

Depending on who and when you ask, Americans either love poetry or, like poet Marianne Moore, they, too, dislike it.

In 2015, it was less popular than “jazz, dance and knitting” according to one report. In 2016, it was “more popular than ever,” by another measure. And by 2017, sales of poetry books had doubled.

Far from being a destroyer of the form, the internet has opened a new venue for people to find, study and share poems. That’s how Rupi Kaur went from posting poems on her Instagram to writing bestselling books.

Kaur’s success has driven much of the boost in sales. But look at the poem in the above Tweet. Is it good? How do you know?

“Of all the literary forms, we might have predicted that poetry had the best chance of escaping social media’s dumbing effect; its project, after all, has typically been to rid language of cliché,” Rebecca Watts wrote in the poetry journal PN Review. “Yet in the redefinition of poetry as ‘short-form communication’ the floodgates have been opened. The reader is dead: long live consumer-driven content and the ‘instant gratification’ this affords.”

Whether you read it with a perfect contempt for it or you put a high-sounding interpretation upon it, we’ll talk poetry, how to read it, and how to know what’s good.


  • Kevin Young Director, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; poetry editor, The New Yorker; author, "Brown: Poems" and "Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News;" @Deardarkness
  • Tracy K. Smith Pulitzer-winning poet; professor of poetry, Princeton University; 22nd U.S. Poet Laureate; author "Wade in the Water"
  • Matthew Zapruder Poet; editor, Wave Books and New York Times Magazine poetry page; professor, Saint Mary’s College of California; author, “Why Poetry?"; @matthewzapruder
  • Danez Smith Poet; author, "[insert] Boy," Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry winner and "Don't Call Us Dead: Poems;" finalist, 2017 National Book Award for poetry; podcast co-host, VS with Franny Choi; @Danez_Smif

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