Call-out for Instagram poetry (including short films)

The Poetry Library at London’s Southbank Centre posted a Call-out for Instagram Poetry back on the first of February — but there’s still plenty of time to enter:

A whole new generation has taken to Instagram to create and share poetry. Often described as an underground culture, some of the most successful Instagram poets have millions of followers and post over a dozen new poems a day.

That’s why we are asking poets and Instagrammers alike to share their work on Instagram, by tagging the library @nationalpoetrylibrary and using the hashtag #instapoetrylib. We are also looking for short poetry films which should be submitted using the same hashtag.

The best of these will be displayed in an exhibition at the National Poetry Library. From striking typographic design, to social comments and emotional confessions, this exhibition provides the perfect introduction to this emergent form of poetry.

How to enter

Participants can start publishing their Instapoems and short films right now, and can continue to do so until Wednesday 21 March.

All entries must be posted on Instagram using #instapoetrylib and tagging the library too (@nationalpoetrylibrary). Make sure you do this otherwise we might not see your entry! Only one entry per person.

By submitting your poems you are agreeing for your entry to be shown in the exhibition at the library.

We welcome you to play around with the form using images, illustrations, different typefaces or anything creative you want to explore – there are no limits! We are looking for interesting designs as well as strong poetic content.

There are no restrictions on location – this is a global competition so please share far and wide.

What you get

A selection of the library’s favourite poems will be displayed in an exhibition at the National Poetry Library, Southbank Centre. Three of the selected poets will be invited to read at the opening event and will receive a £100 performance fee.

If you’re new to Instagram, here’s how to post a video (note the maximum length: 60 seconds). You can of course create a video on a desktop computer, but it must be transferred to a mobile device and uploaded via the app. (User agent switcher plugins make it possible to post still photos from a web browser, but not video.) Note that Instagram videos play in a loop, like GIFs, so it might be fun to take that element of the user experience into account.

Instagram is of course the epitome of a web-hostile app — so much so that it doesn’t even permit links in posts — so if you’re an idealist who believes in the open web, and you’re not already on Instagram as I am, you’re probably better off not joining just to enter this contest. In any case, you don’t have to join to browse the web version, which is a far pleasanter experience than attempting to watch a video on a goddamn phone. Here are all the posts tagged #instapoetrylib so far. It looks as if at least one user has ignored the instruction to only enter once, and is busy spamming the hashtag with utter dreck. Yep, that’s Instagram.

But OK, being able to view all the other submissions is pretty cool, I’ll give them that. I’d love to see contests on other platforms practice this kind of openness.

Hat-tip: the Poetry Film Live group on Facebook.

Dave Bonta

Dave is the founder of Moving Poems, and posts videos for his own poems (along with lots of other stuff) at Via Negativa. Here's a bio.