Rumi, Social Media and Latitude – Poetry News Roundup 18th July

In today’s news round-up, Music and poetry meet in two very different ways and we see just how much of an influence social media is having on the popularity and accessibility of poetry.

Persian Poet and Philosopher: Rumi

Following the announcement that Beyonce and Jay-Z had chosen the name Rumi for one of their twins, the big question that many people were asking was who was Rumi?

Born in 1207 Rumi – full name Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, was a Persian poet, Sufi philosopher and Muslim scholar. A crucial voice throughout the Middle East for several centuries Rumi is also one of the all-time best-selling poets in America. The lasting message of the words of wisdom that fill his poetry has been a key influence for many artists and thinkers of the twenty-first century. Rumi’s poetry, which follows the Sufi tradition, serves to emphasize the link between mind and body and is often seen as a great source of spiritual understanding. In choosing the name, Beyonce, who is deeply spiritual, has chosen to tie herself into an ancient Persian tradition and embrace the influence that Rumi has played in the lives of so many artists.

Whilst some people might be a little surprised at the choice of name this isn’t the first time that Beyonce and poetry have been linked. For her hit album Lemonade, she collaborated with London’s first Young Poet Laureate, Warsan Shire.

Poetry on Social Media

Whilst we all study the obligatory poetry at school, relatively few people genuinely fall in love with poetry from that first initial foray. The internet, and more specifically social media platforms, is turning poetry upside down; amateur poets can publish their poetry and reach a much greater audience instantly. And it isn’t just these want to be poets who are taking to Twitter and Instagram but those more established poets like Rupi Kaur who has taken to Instagram to share snippets of his works.

Micro poetry, especially those pieces that are well written and flow easily is having a huge impact; social media plays such a huge part of people’s lives and putting poetry out there makes it accessible to everyone all the time. No longer must people stop at a bookstore to find poetry, poetry has found them.

The Changing Face of Latitude

Even festivals are getting a much-needed change when it comes to poetry, and Latitude is no exception. As the festival enters its 11th year organisers are hoping that a fresh new injection of the spoken word in the form of podcasts and poetry will capture the interest of an audience who will mainly have gathered to listen to live music. Poetry at festivals might not be new but it is gathering pace as groups like Poetry collective Bang Said The Gun strive to change the way in which poetry is performed. Out with the stereotypical poetry night and in with something bigger, bolder and all together more captivating.

The collective put the growing popularity of poetry down to the influence of those contemporary poets who have been bringing their work to wider audiences; people like Kate Tempest and Hollie McNish who have been offering people an entertaining alternative to music or comedy.


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