Three Contemporary Wordsmiths You’re Missing Out On

People say poetry is a dying art. This is simply not true. Poetry came from the streets and it may have retreated there but it’s still prevalent in our culture. One line is all it takes to fall in love with words.

Art changes to adapt to the times, the form, the structure, the language… And in our age of ephemeral Internet attention spans, it may well be the time for our friend the poet to use those seconds and make you see the world slightly differently. You may not be down for a full length novel, and that’s fine, but may I suggest a text-message size version that fits right in your pocket?

“I think this is where I belong – among all your other lost things. A crumpled note at the bottom of a drawer or an old photograph pressed between the pages of a book. I hope someday you will find me and remember what I once meant to you.”

(Lang Leav, Lost Things, Love and Misadventure)

1) R.M. Drake

R. M. Drake is the nom-de-plume of self-published writer Robert Macias, who started out life as a poet by posting his works on Instagram, using what has now become his signature style; printing words in typewriter-esque fonts on spotted or lined paper.

“Sometimes you have to shatter the mirror in you to see all the pieces that make you beautiful.”

(Beautiful, Beautiful Chaos)

From Instagram posts to self-published books, Drake has garnered quite a following, having celebrities share his work and not only selling his books on his own online shop, but breaching the top ten publications in the poetry category that made it as Amazon best-sellers. But, how does one go from writing on social media to having an audience in the millions?

This utilisation of social media as a tool to boost ones artistic reach is an interesting idea, one that has undoubtedly been the cornerstone of Drake’s success. It has become even easier for people to claim their way to fame with viral videos and images, however, for most this is short-lived. To sustain a viewership as large as 1.5 million and for a long period of time surely takes expert craftsmanship and dedication to said craft.

2) Steve Nash

With all the sonnets, stanzas and soliloquies we all had drilled into our skulls in school, it can be easy to lose sight of any personal connection with a text. Nash’s work will blow that notion from every inch of your brain.

“A woman stands./ There is no stage./ There is no audience./ There is nothing for her to stand upon/ And nobody to watch her.”

(Stage Play, Taking the Long Way Home)

Taking the Long Way Home may be Steve Nash’s only poetry publication, but it has a power about it unlike everything we think we know about poetry. He adopts a unique kind of diversity across the form and structure of his work, making each piece take you to a very different place while somehow maintaining this unbreakable string of knowing that makes you feel both complete and incomplete.

The anthology has a universal intelligibility to it, regardless of subject matter it would be difficult not to find it engaging. You don’t have to be a great lover of poetry to appreciate Taking the Long Way Home, you just have to be able to read English.

3) Daniel Rowland

Also known as The Pavement Poet, Daniel Rowland travels around the UK painting his poetry on the pavement, for the whole world to see. In this way, he has effectively transversed the medium itself and launched into a whole new kind of social statement.

“My chalk is tinder,/ My words a spark,/ My ink it’s fuel,/ As the fire starts.”

(Leeds)

Rowland has stated in a TEDx Talk that he focuses on challenging social norms, so not only does he lay out his work in this way, but he has the unique ability to gauge the reaction of the public seeing him unveil his words on the pavement. It can be easy to walk down a path and not notice your surroundings, but the work that Rowland does encourages people to look above and beyond and appreciate the written word in all its humble glory.

These people all share the quirk of being able to manipulate emotion with only a small amount of words; we can’t let them be anything other than what they are. After all, we are all poets, some of us just don’t have a medium for our verse.

“Sit still and grip the wheel,/ just don’t look back –/ behind, in the next layby,/ all you left wait/ with the engine running,/ still in gear.”

(Helen Mort, Passing Place, Granta Magazine)

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