My thoughts on Instapoets

The term Instapoet bothers me. It seems to me that it has a negative meaning. It is generally in media articles used to group together writers that have chosen to publish snippets of their poetry on Instagram and have had some success in doing so. I also cannot help but notice that a large part of Instapoets are women.

Instapoets versus ‘Instapoets’ The apostrophes used maybe to deride those writers, like me, and maybe you, and to say you have merely captured the attention of many on a social media platform. Whilst typically in the poems using line breaks (Or, some might argue, inserting a line break after every three words) and taking on controversial subjects, such as feminism.
When I think of women that were but a century ago using pen names to even be published, and that women can now self publish their experiences, from abuse, to being belittled. These words give me, and many others, strength. And hope too. What was taboo is now not. Voices in vast majorities are ringing out, and are being heard.

Jennae Cecelia and Amanda Lovelace were two poets that first set me on the path of discovery of self – love, and self – care. Concepts that had never been presented to me were now in black and white. Why was I feeling so alone, empty, angry? These voices answered the questions.
I have had a small dawning recently that the books I hold in my hands have made me feel normal.
I do not subscribe to the view that Instapoets are any less a poet, because they are not a classical poet, or a beat poet. Poetry changes over the years, as does our language, fashion, and culture. Your poetry is not any less because you choose to share your words on a social media platform, perform them at an Open Mic night, or keep them to yourself. Poetry is an open dialogue that can connect us all together. Today I feel incredibly grateful that I have poetry.

some poets

J. R. Rouge
Ashley Rose
Kat Lehmann
Melissa Jennings
Gretchen Gomez
Anne Chivon
Amanda Lovelace
Jennae Cecelia
McKayla DeBonis
Isabelle Kenyon
Rupi Kaur
Alain Ginsberg
Katie Clark
Sam Rose
Nicholas Trandahl

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Lunchtime Review. Peeking Cat 🐱 Poetry Magazine. The April Issue. Editor Sam Rose ( @writersamr )

ebook (free)



As always with Peeking Cat there is a varied selection of poems and stories from writers in Scotland to Bangor. I like the travel theme in this issue, particularly as it is coming up to *that* time of year.
The Rush to Relax by David Attree is a delightful rhyming poem on the experiences of travel: what to do with your hoodie, have you got your passport, luggage weight, the body scanner, and so on. Twelve Dark Days of Summer by Michelle Wray is a sombre depiction of a gloomy outdoor scene, of which us in the UK are quite used to. There are also song lyrics in A First Broken down Valise by Chris Rogers, an excellent prose piece in A Study of Frowns by John E. McBride, and a sobering story His Mistress by Rafael Pursley, in gardens, with flowers, used as metaphors for a troubled relationship.

Another fantastic issue of Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine.


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4 Questions with Galya Varna.

Galya Varna

1, Tell us about you, and your writing (themes, influences etc.)

I was born in Varna, the summer capital of Bulgaria, on the Black Sea Coast, but currently live in Greece, on the coast of the Aegean Sea.

I hold a MA in English literature and linguistics and language acquisition is another passion of mine. For years I have been writing poetry, short stories and plays but only recently have started thinking about sharing my poems and “Dreams You Thought Were Lost” is my first published poetry book, released in February 2018 on Amazon.

When talking about influences I think that reading poetry in different languages has influenced my writing. I read poetry in 3 languages – Bulgarian, English and Russian. I admire the art of translation. Actually some of the poems in “Dreams You Thought Were Lost” were originally written in Bulgarian and I translated them into English.

2, What are some of the ways in which you promote your work, and do you find these add, or eat into, your time writing?

Well, I am trying to promote my work on Twitter, FB and LinkedIn as well as through my blog. I am also open to participating in different co-writing projects or contributing to anthologies. To be honest, I am better at promoting other people’s work than my own.

3, What projects are you working on at present?

One creative project I currently work on is WeArtFriends ( and the bimonthly online magazine Doorway to Art ( We have just finished work on the 3nd issue where poets and artists are featured.

WeArtFriends has also launched a poetry competition (closes on 21st May 2018) aiming to put together an anthology. More information about the competition can be found at

4, What does poetry mean to you?

Poetry is like breathing – comes naturally to me and I don’t need prompts to write, don’t need to plan or force myself in any way. It helps me see beauty in sometimes not very nice situations. Poetry helps me find beauty in nature, in human thought, in relationships, in sadness and loss.
It’s also a great source of connecting with everything in our world. For many many years in my poems I have been using nature-related imagery when I wanted to express an emotion or look at a situation from a different or unexpected angle. In the last years I have been reading more about Bulgarian history, our origins and the beliefs our ancestors shared before accepting Christianity in 9th century AD and was surprised to discover that most of the imagery I use in my poems is part of that pre-Christian pagan tradition. So I guess, poetry is also a way to connect to my roots.

Debut poetry collection “Dreams You Thought Were Lost” of author Galya Varna weaves unexpected stories belonging to the realms of aether and the present day.

The poems, organized into 8 sections, tell tales of love and endless wonders, voice fears and hopes, take the reader on happy and sad journeys, paint visions of special times and stormy days, share beauty, sadness and moments of joy, hoping for better tides.

If you ever had dreams you thought were lost, this voyage is for you!

4 Questions with Jennifer Lagier.

Jennifer Lagier

1, Tell us about you, and your writing (themes, influences etc.)

I’ve been scribbling since I was a child. I grew up on a peach ranch in a small town in the central valley of California. The tiny library fed my imagination as did the librarian and teachers who encouraged my writing from an early age. Authors who have influenced my work include: Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Denise Levertov, Adrienne Rich, Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux, Kim Addonizio, Annie Dillard, Mary Oliver, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Pablo Neruda, and so many more. My writing themes seem to divide themselves into nature, feminism, political outrage/social justice, an exploration of my Italian American heritage. I also use poetry to capture family history.

2, What are some of the ways in which you promote your work, and do you find these add, or eat into, your time writing?

I promote my work through use of my web site, Facebook, at readings and book signings. I have to admit, this is my least favorite activity. All those years of Italian Catholic training do not lend themselves well to self-promotion! Still, I do what I can to get the word out about my writing. Online ezines have been a boon in this respect. I do begrudge the time these activities take away from actual creation, but consider them necessary and grit my teeth and do it.

3, What projects are you working on at present?

I just finished two big projects–one is a collection of poems about the Soberanes Fire of 2016 that devastated the Ventana Wilderness and parts of Big Sur, impacting the entire Monterey Peninsula/Cachagua/Carmel Valley area and a second that captured my elderly mother’s decline and death from metastasized breast cancer last year. Both collections are present in my newest book, Like a B Movie that was released last month by FutureCycle Press. I’m currently working on two new projects–a collection of nature poems and another, gritty collection of social justice/political poems.

4, What does poetry mean to you?

Poetry is my sustenance. It is my blood, my air, my way of comprehending and processing life.

In this collection, Lagier offers readers a series of plotlines and protagonists, comparing life experiences to a cheesy, second-rate film. Her reviewers describe a voice full of compassion, endurance, tenderness and melancholy, poems as arrows that pierce the heart. Like a B Movie pushes boundaries with bravura poetry that combines shrewdness, bleak acuity and rueful humor.

4 Questions with Kat Lehmann.

Kat Lehmann

Avi with two books - March2018.jpg

1, Tell us about you, and your writing (themes, influences etc.)

My writing sits at the intersect of poetry, meditation, inspirational self-help, memoir. Basically, I write what I need to read, and I express it as beautifully and simply as I can. I am a scientist by training, but while I was in graduate school I became an obsessive reader of poetry. After a long day in the lab, I would happily spend an evening dissecting the perfection of a Louise Bogan poem or sinking into the yearning of the early confessional poets. I have too many influences to count, but I would include Lucile Clifton, Anne Sexton, Sharon Olds, ee cummings, and Emily Dickinson. I’m currently being mesmerized by Ocean Vuong and enjoying the touchstones of Thich Nhat Hanh. I also like the whimsy of children’s books and what I call “children’s books for adults”.
Thematically, my primary influence is my own experiences in surviving the cycles of loss and renewal to find a deeper happiness. My first book, Moon Full of Moons, shares this cycle in a somewhat raw and bleeding (poetic) way. My forthcoming memoir-essay manuscript takes a philosophical slant to the ways we lose and regain a sense of self when faced with ongoing loss. We find a way to reinvent our lives. I always try to go deep enough into the emotions to find the common thread that ties our tapestries together so that others can connect the words to their own feelings. And they do – a common comment I receive is “How did you know this feeling I’ve always felt but could not name?” To me, that is the best comment an author can receive. I think craft and technique can go only so far if the content is not informed by authentic life experiences. Otherwise, we’re just admiring the perfection of a sphere is rather than how beautiful a uniquely-pocketed, cratered moon is, shadows and all.
Part of making a beautiful book is wrapping the words in a beautiful package, and I’m thankful that Subhashini Chandramani, who creates lush Garden Art from flowers, has provided cover art for Small Stones from the River.

A little more about me: I’m a mom, wife, active in my church, and am a Ph.D. biochemist who does regulatory work and manages clinical trials for kidney patients. And I swoon over a special river, tree, or a good moon.

2, What are some of the ways in which you promote your work, and do you find these add, or eat into, your time writing?

I would love to spend days tucked away writing and doing wonderful inward-facing deep-dives into my thoughts. I also love seeing my writing as a conversation with the reader, and this urges me back to the surface in an outward-facing way. I think I know what I’ve created, but sometimes a reader will think of a new use for a book. For example, Small Stones from the River is being used in yoga classes as meditations during savasana, and I did not anticipate that use (although I treasure that the words are being like this). Communication with readers is the fun, outward-facing part about writing. The not-at-all fun part is marketing. I would say I’m terrible at marketing, and I’m okay with being terrible at it. In the end, a book will sail or sink on its own merits, not based on a promotion.
I get pretty excited about my books and the responses from readers, so I share that excitement on social media in the form of excerpts. I have given away a good number of books around the United States as part of my Ripples of Kindness project. I try to put good things into the world in a simple way that is accessible to everyone. I stay active locally and am involved in local events. Recently, an article in the local paper about my projects led me being invited to read my poetry at a local event celebrating movement. We exist in a web that tugs in different ways, so providing nourishment to others, and to the web as a whole, is not so different from providing nourishment to ourselves. Everything is connected.

3, What projects are you working on at present?

I have three active projects at the moment. The first is my first collection of prose, which will focus on rediscovering childhood and finding a sense of home as an adult. The second is a poetry chapbook that is, basically, a love letter to the body. The third collection is a sequel to Small Stones from the River, although it has a twist! Small Stones from the River contains haiku, tanka, and short, meditative free verse poems. The “small stones” sequel is a contemporary interpretation of a Japanese form of poetry called haibun. I always knew there would be a sequel to Small Stones from the River (I have enough “small stone” poems for a few books!), and expanding these poems into longer haibun pieces has been really fun. There has been an highly positive response from readers to the first volume, and the sequel will be done in a way to keep the offerings fresh. Those three projects are the forerunners, and I anticipate at least one of them will be finished in 2018.

4, What does poetry mean to you?

Poetry is a way to use words to describe what is beyond words. Emotion and memory are great examples of this. Emotions are too complicated to be represented by letters on a page, but a poem can transmit that feeling to the reader. Memory is the same way. Many memories come to my mind in flashes of scenes, and this is a way poetry can transmit an image. My favorite poems leave enough space so that the meaning is like an impressionistic painting in which the viewer must back up a bit to see the picture. I also love the elegant economy of short poems. Writing haiku has been great for me in developing this skill, and I’m at the point where I’ve been honored several times as a haiku master finalist in writing competitions. Haiku, tanka, and writing on Twitter challenge me to pack layered meaning into a handful of words. What can we do with language to communicate on a basic human level that speaks across cultures and speaks between the lines?

In Small Stones from the River, I decided to remove punctuation and replace it with consistently-used line breaks and spaces. Most people don’t notice that punctuation isn’t there, because it is not needed. How primal and deep can we go? Poetry is an experiment with language to communicate what cannot otherwise be communicated.

forgive - you can take back your pain if you need it

Small Stones from the River is a 2017 Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards Finalist, and Moon Full of Moons is a Winner of the 2016 Royal Dragonfly Book Award.

“Kat Lehmann’s original poetry shows an advanced understanding of the human condition.” -The Rebecca Review
“I am a tough reviewer. Lehmann is a very fine poet. Put up beside Robert Frost (The Lovely Shall Be Choosers), e.e.cummings (Tumbling hair; O purple finch), H.D. (The Helmsman), Margaret Atwood (Projected Slide of an Unknown Soldier), Lehmann is indeed ‘roughly equal to best in genre.’” -The Kindle Book Review