Portrait of a Poem: Mother’s Day Words of Wisdom

May 11, 2018

A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. But what if you could have both? In the age of Instagram, some poets are finding that their verse has taken on a new visual life.

“There’s something special about sharing poetry on Instagram,” says Katharine Brose (@kathbrose), whose witty, handwritten musings strike an inspirational tone. “We all walk around with our phones in our pockets, and being able to open up Instagram and read a poem that describes something you’re feeling is a rare kind of connection. You feel less alone.”

The convergence of poetry and technology is nothing new. In the 1950s, one of the earliest commercial computers, Z22, was tasked with composing a poem using a Kafka text. Since then, digital poetry has thrived on the Internet thanks to a wide range of approaches, from interactive games and poem generators to more obscure forms, such as free verse written entirely in computer code.

But Instagram offers something especially novel to the historically reclusive poet: an interactive audience.

“Instagram is where I started sharing my words — I guess I used it as a safe spot to see if my writing actually had anything to contribute to the world,” says Tess Guinery (@tessguinery), a designer who began writing about a year ago, while taking a sabbatical to explore new opportunities. “To be honest, I’ve been really shocked by the response, by how far the words have traveled, and by how people have truly connected with my dabblings.”

Tess’s 40K readers tune in her for raw, confessional verses, which are interspersed with idyllic photographs of her family’s life in Queensland, Australia. While Walt Whitman had to return to his day job as his publisher struggled to move copies of “Leaves of Grass”, Tess will soon publish her first book, “The Apricot Memoirs,” with the help of a Kickstarter campaign that far exceeded its $19,000 goal.

“I want to continue to share my journey through prose and poetry in hopes that it prompts others to take some risks,” says Tess of her success. “I’m certainly grateful I chose to leave my comfy cave. Life has really opened up in ways I never knew possible since I listened to that small inner voice.”

With Mother’s Day on the horizon, we reached out to some of our favorite Instagram poets for words of wisdom. Lindsay O’Connell (@wilderpoetry) shared a piece inspired by her first fan. “I was raised by a single mom, and she was always so supportive of me and encouraged me to be creative,” says Lindsay, a graphic designer-turned-writer whose beautifully composed feed reaches 116K followers. “My mom really meant it when she said, ‘you can be anything you want to be.’”

Similarly, Charly Remy Cox (@charlycox1) shares admiration for her mother with a poem that starts with a simple, poignant musing, “Can you be related to a soulmate” – a question whose sentiment echoes throughout the piece.

Katharine’s piece also pays tribute to the strong women who raised her. “The poem I wrote is about the women that have come before me, the ones who have made me who I am,” she says. “I come from a long line of witty and brave women, and I have such a strong desire to carry on that legacy with my life.”

For Tess, Mother’s Day is an opportunity to share her personal experience as a new mom. Although more complicated than the smiling photos and sweet sentiments usually posted on the holiday, she hopes her words are helpful to those who may be struggling. “My early stages of motherhood were very interesting — I was like a little dear in headlights wearing armor, gritting my teeth and being brave on the exterior while falling apart on the inside,” she recalls. “I was a mess, holding it all together in the name of perfectionism. I wish someone had pulled me aside and just said ‘let yourself un-do.’”

Celebrate mom with a gift that’s just right. Check out our Mother’s Day Gift Guide here