Witnessing the digital renaissance of poetry, Instagram redefines traditional literature by introducing a liberated and unfiltered form of expression. To celebrate the new poetic genre and experimental craft, Hive Life captures the essence of #instapoetry with some of Asia Pacific’s rising Instagram poets.
In the midst of poetry’s digital renaissance, a new genre transcends beyond books, beliefs, and culture. The dynamic appeal, relatability, and accessibility of these aspiring Instagram poets account for their mainstream popularity among young followers.
While iconic poets Shakespeare, Plath, Angelou, and more honorifics, remain at the forefront of traditional literature, Instagram has fostered the rise of a new generation of #instapoets. Queen of the realm, Rupi Kaur, established herself as a powerful Instagram poetess, narrating her experiences in immigration, womanhood, inequality, and growth. Such honest and fearless poetic expression has dramatically influenced the shift to modernist poetry, inspiring many others to follow suit.
Exploring diverse and liberated works, we capture some of APAC’s rising Instagram poets, as these emerging voices manifest empowerment, femininity, sexuality, and diaspora.
@thisbluecreature – Blue Rachapradit
Nata (น้ำ) means water
Two letters A mouse (นู) and a soldier (ท)
In reference to my father
His name too is made up of
The quiet and the steady
The cunning and the strong
Light steps – ammunition in hand
They come together in his name
To say – Boom! A deafening noise
The beat of a drum Mine comes together to say
Shhh which is to say true
Which is to say clarity
Marks me with an unshakable vulnerability
That shivers like glass
And the stubbornness
Fresh water possess for salt
Hurrying towards the sea
Blue Rachapradit is a visual poet, graphic designer, as well as the founder and Art Director of The F Word Art Magazine, based in Thailand. Through her “perpetually naked and honest” visual creations, and subversive poetry, she explores the surreal landscape of women’s sexuality and the diaspora discourse on her roots and culture. Blue’s works convey her philosophical notion of triumph over the preset patriarchy by empowering and reclaiming the female body, femininity, and womanhood. The poetess featured her spoken word, from her Protest Poetry collection at Lyrical Lunacy, Bangkok’s Leading Poetry Slam, navigating the personal, political, and cultural dilemma of living away from home, amongst different values and beliefs.
@knguyenpoetry – Kimberly Nguyen
my love overflowing for you i saw the future: each star alignment
would leave me empty-handed still, i turned towards you kneeling, i raised
my palms to the sky my beseeching hands, unfolded
in benediction, hands never close into a fist what lands upon our trembling fingers
can always lift off and leave us my faith was wrong it once thought ecstasy
was the image of god in which we were made i know now that image was pain
the way i look at you the same way god must have looked at adam
and saw the future: a back turned from an outstretched hand god and i—
the same fool both knowing that we will come away with nothing having given everything our
hands reaching towards you anyway
Kimberly Nguyen is a Vietnamese-American diaspora Instagram poet and writer, who expresses the tragic history of her roots through her visually phenomenal language and poetry. She was awarded the Beatrice Daw Brown Prize for her eminent work in poetry and is the Emerging Voices Fellow in Poetry at PEN America. Redefining the means of intergenerational trauma, she courageously addresses and traverses the unforgiving past through her works. Kimberly is the author of I Am Made of War, flesh, and ghosts in the stalks, the themes of which revolve around important and poignant moments associated with her lost identity, racism and sexism faced, as well as her coming of age. Her poetry captures a powerful image through the words and perception of an Asian girl, living and growing up in a foreign place called home.
@thenovelencounter – Adam Tie
at one point
i know that you felt invincible
but life humbled you
and took your light.
once your own angel
now struggling to stay aloft,
clipped wings desperate to reach the stars.
you may never be invincible again
& in fact you probably never were.
but now you’re something powerful
because you survived the fall
and keep rising into the midnight sun.
you don’t have to be the hero, see?
all you have to be is yourself.
Founder, author, and poet at Singapore-based The Novel Encounter, Adam Tie defines his poetry as positive, euphoric, and a vivid expression of his life experiences, compiled with some hilarious anecdotes. “Mister Write,” as his bio reads, periodically tailors bespoke typewritten poems for his visitors and those interested in his craft, during live events hosted. The poet’s unique and personalised literature has made him a sensation, weaving simple words given by the audience into beautiful, captivating poetry pieces. Inspired by classic novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, the independent poet published his first novel, This Life Electric (2020), incorporating the familiar theme of a dream and promise.
@ladyredego – Lady Red Ego
It was not the breadth, but the depth
that made the difference. Like
farming ice, everyone was so pale
and far away. And I learnt it your way,
with green hair in a pub full of traffic.
And I did it your way, kept dead ends
living on a prayer. You do know that
black hair is also an exciting and very gay
colour, right? You know that I am the same
as my mother and cousin and auntie
just as I am the same as you, frosted-tipped
butch, with your arctic shoulders and
melting lips. Climates do change
at a push. And a white man on youtube
told me that some Chinese Yaozu women
grow their hair into forever. 我要更像你一樣!
Tell me, then, this secret of holding on
even when it seems like the future will never
come, even when the present melts under
my fingers. Tell me about the southern
waters of wanting.
Chinese and British instapoet and writer, Lady Red Ego, paints a poetic expression around the taboos of sexual desire and hidden fantasies, vocalising the unspoken realms of intimacy beyond the physical. As a queer artist, she first gained recognition at the age of 18 by the Queer Words Project Scotland, continued to perform at various recitals, and in 2019 BBC The Social featured her poem “Rain.” Her recent pamphlet, Natural Sugars, is a collective of contemporary poetry on sexual exploration and reclamation of her body. Split between two cultural upbringings, the writer addresses her diasporic culture in her poetry. She enjoys “rewriting historic figures, to give readers a better understanding of the complexity of stories.” The poet has performed her spoken poetry Poetics of Home at the Chinese Diaspora Festival, in The Mapping of Desire, navigating gender and sexual identities through their poetry.
@tokyorf – Rachel Ferguson
jumped the gun
mindless pipe dream
scrape it out
toss out names
put on shoes
Rachel Ferguson is an Instagram poet based in Japan with a rather interesting background. Moving to a different country, Rachel worked as a TV presenter, voice artist, and writer in Tokyo, and co-founded Ryozan Park Preschool and Ryozan Park, before discovering her passion for poetry and prose. The poet delves into womanhood, motherhood, and more, as the diverse range of poems and prose covered tells of her strong grasp of universal themes. Her work quoted above narrates the heartbreaking tale of a miscarriage she endured, hoping to find solace and offer those undergoing the same some comfort, through her heartfelt and candid poise.
@jaidynpoetry – Jaidyn Luke Attard
makes eyes with me as two men
stagger up to her sitting place
in front of the State Library —
and we both know in that moment
the men are going to sit beside her,
one on either flank, trapped
in their musk and cigarette smoke —
they both turn their necky necks
to stare at her, look her up, down,
tobacco trail wafting in and through
her deeply pierced nostrils —
and she stands to make her getaway,
knowing that i know she is uncomfortable
with the smokey stranger stumblers
that wanted something more from her —
Paving the streets of Melbourne, Jaidyn Attard discovered his passion for street poetry and spoken word, as he led the ground-breaking offbeat and edgy poetic movement in the locality. Alongside his work in dark academia, he founded The Degraves Circle, a cluster of like-minded Melbournian writers, poets and artists, sharing the same vision and vibration for the poetry revolution. Making his journey from an instapoet to establishing his very own publishing house, Roadside Press, Jaidyn wrote and published his first book together with two other writers Jay and Rick, “There’s a Tale to This City,” a collective of peculiar portrayal, combined with poetry, narrative prose, and toilet paper diary entries on navigating the streets and their experiences in Melbourne.
A toiling an astringent lowness
A labored misery. My love used to
Bloom overnight, the streets wide
Enough for me to walk down. Life
A bloody toe or two. Easy. But I’ve been
Making my mother’s bitter
Melon: halved, hollowed out,
Sautéed with garlic, salt, the eyes of
Fermented black beans opening
To me from the pan. It’s not
Sugar I crave, but an ache that
Still makes the tongue water.
A sadness held in the mouth. Is this
Savor my ceaseless condition? If so, I’m
Sick with it. Pull out my molars.
Make of me a simpler O.
A worthwhile mention – Emily Lee Luan is a Taiwanese American poet, author of I Watch the Boughs, a chapbook containing honest and heartfelt expressions, and is also an educator at Rutgers University, Newark. Her poetry work explores themes of diaspora, and cultural entanglement, steeped deep into the loss and longing of a forgotten past, combining western and Chinese elements in her portrayal. The poet, alongside her many accomplishments, was accredited and published by the Best American Poetry (2021), American Poetry Review, as well as The Offing, featuring the above poem, on inherited mannerisms, and a bittersweet representation of her roots.
Featured banner image credit: bluerachapradit.com