Evasive poetry

Some observations and notes on Estonian rap and Insta-poetry


Keywords: cyberliterature, Instagram potery, rap poetry, poetics, semiotics of poetry

According to statistics, over the last decade, and especially during the last five years, the importance of lyrical poetry as an art form in Western culture has started to grow again. The increasing popularity of both written and oral poetry is associated with the emergence of new media. Here, the platforms of the written poetry are text, photo or/and video sharing social networking services (at first Tumblr, now primarily Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook), and of the oral poetry audio and video distribution media services (SoundCloud, Spotify, YouTube). Therefore, written poetry is no longer only traditional bookish poetry, and oral poetry is no longer confined to folklore.

The aim of this article is to examine some attitudes and issues related to the emergence of this digital era poetry and to outline its main features and mechanisms of meaning. The analysis focuses on Estonian Insta-poetry and rap, studying how these subtypes of poetry, which originate from English-speaking cultures, have emerged after a time gap in a smaller literature and how they have changed the audience, the authors, and the meaning-making of poetry. Here, nine more or less intertwined levels that help to understand this turn in poetry are distinguished: (a) the primacy of a single poem, (b) two-way communication, (c) instant emotive communities, (d) the new lyrical self, (e) the intention of genuineness, (f) ephemerality, (g) brevity, (h) new textual relations, (i) visuality/intonation.


Rebekka Lotman (b. 1978), PhD, University of Tartu, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Institute of Cultural Research, Associate Professor of World Literature; Tallinn University Press, Editor-in-Chief (Narva mnt 25, 10120 Tallinn), rebekka.lotman@tlu.ee