The Tumblr Poetry Aesthetic, or: the stars, the sea, Icarus, dark suburbia, and the (un)intentional pandering and ungrowth of the well-established
this conversation was initiated for me (madina) personally by giana@syrupbrat and stefan@travelingsalesman. epoch discussed
this extensively in our discord chat, and the content of this post is mostly pulled
out of that discussion.
through the usual tags used to promote one’s own writing on Tumblr, such as #inkstay, #spilled ink, #poets on tumblr, etc,
we seem to drown in the sameness of everyone’s writing styles that it all is indistinct. It boils down to a haze of blah blah blah stars, blah blah blah yet
another comparison to a Greek mythology figure, more love poetry, girl as
dangerous, boy as god, alcohol is the only way we’ll survive.
originated in what one might call the heydays of Peak™ tumblr poetry
(this is starting to sound like a school essay & smh I can’t let this post
go that direction), circa 2013(?)-2015. Most of it was documented in @nosebleedclub‘s “Memories of a Certain Spring: A Workbook” – Nosebleed Club
was, in fact, what you would point at if you were asked in 2014 what “Tumblr
writing” is (cue the emphasis on was,
the evolution of NBC continues until now & I feel like a proud daughter
about it). Multiple networks and groups have then spanned from that model, some
which are still going until now, some abandoned and left to the dust – just so
that you could be part of that “elite cool kids club”, whether the original one
or not. the writers in the original collective also had their writing styles
copied and/or plagiarized to capitalize off how prevalent and popular this
aesthetic is but nvm that’s not my place to extensively rant about
I do love the stars.
The sea, mythology, dangerous teenage gods, I love them all and I honestly would
die for them (yes, the planets, ocean, and those tragic myths included) – but
when people write about them just because they think it’ll be popular, just
because it fits into the predefined box of what is proven to be well liked – an
aesthetic that has since consumed us – exploration and experimentation dies,
and that’s when it becomes dangerous. Everything posted will only be the
product of rehashing and emulating what has been written and consumed before –
shallow imageries without anything to say, without anything to make it yours. It got over-commercialized fast and crumbled.
Let’s not even mention those who made a fake persona to make their poetry feel
more “real” and authentic, those who write about drugs and alcohol w/o
experiences backing them up and only stereotypes & what other people have
written about it.
This phenomenon is
further supported by Tumblr itself being a bad site in general bad platform
for writing on its own – those notes, those likes and reblogs, really do shape
up to define you, whether you’re conscious of it happening or not. We all crave
for that feeling of being noticed because that’s just how it is. I myself can’t
even say I never wrote something just
for those notes, and I’m sure others that started out writing in Tumblr can say
the same. If you don’t realize it yourself; if you don’t become self-conscious
of the fact that really, Tumblr is a bubble, and do not actively seek out for
anything new because you don’t see the need for it – you get stuck in it. Even
if you wrote with the aesthetic that we all fell in love with, there’s a chance
that you won’t get the recognition you think it deserved – it crushes you, and
the cycle repeats again.
(this aesthetic, in
turn, bled and drenched almost every tumblr roleplay until they all became the
same and unrecognizable individually, whether with the usual tropes of characters:
Sad Rich Girl With A Heart Of Gold. Bad
Rich Boy With A Heart Of Gold. Gay Guy With A Bad Past So He’s Hypersexual Now
– or situational: your edgy Welcome To
This Small Suburban Town Where Everyone is a Supernatural Creature, or perhaps
your This Is A Simulation of a Real Life Town for People Who Have No Lives)
Personally, I do
believe in the existence of Bad Poetry – though “underdeveloped” is the word I
prefer to use (maybe it’s just because I’m a softie and I can’t say outright
that it’s bad, but let’s be real, bad poetry is bad poetry). No soul and
nothing else to offer than just a few pretty words and fleeting concepts.
Pseudo-profound bullshittery. u wanna get off it?
internalize the fact
that we unconsciously seek for approval
get off tumblr for a while and write
in your solitude
consume more than u write.
explore & experiment upon
different themes and structure. get out of your comfort zone in writing
write about your own memories and experiences, whether good or
bad or interesting or not interesting, not what is deemed is consumable
turn to your culture and read up those local myths
– Honestly, I don’t know how because it cannot be forced. But recognizing that this exists will in turn make you think even more critically about your writing.
oh, that’s it – be critical. To the words that surround
you & the words that come out of you.
To close this off:“its Everywhere like i get it . u wanna be
a vampire cheerleader with a smile too big. i Get it . lets do something else”