Posted: 21 March 2019

World Poetry Day: young people are using online poetry to explore difficult emotions

In a world where 1 in 8 children aged 5 to 19 are reported to have a mental health condition, it’s important that young people feel open to talk about mental health.

The rising popularity of accessible poetry and spoken word, figure-headed by lyricists such as Kate Tempest and George the Poet, is giving young people a social stage to both share their own, and read about other people’s feelings.

Young women are the biggest consumers of poetry 

Poetry is not new, but the rise of online poetry is opening it up to diverse new audiences. Once part of an old academic club, poetry is now consumed most by young women aged 13-24. The number of teenage boys and young men who buy poetry have also increased. 

Younger people are using poetry as a way to understand difficult emotions in a world that is becoming increasingly complex. What’s more, it’s instantly accessible and shareable. 

Rupi Kaur, a 26-year-old with over 3 million Instagram followers, is a performer and author whose collections of poems have topped the New York Times Bestsellers list. Rupi writes with openness and understanding on topics such as abuse, identity, femininity, loss and mental health. 

Rupi’s poems provide a safe space to discuss topics such as mental health. Her fans connect with the vulnerability and many thank her for sharing a trauma or sadness that they themselves have been through.

Rupi Kaur alcoholic father

Online poetry is a platform to share difficult stories

It’s not easy to talk about how you’re feeling but reading someone else’s words that seem to articulate something you feel can be incredibly comforting and freeing. Similarly, writing poetry can help you order your feelings in a world where too many of us just say ‘yes’ when asked if we’re okay. 

In his podcast, George the Poet states ‘telling your story is the secret to survival’. It may not be for everyone, but online poetry is making it easier to share our stories and has proven a useful tool for exploring difficult topics. At the very least, more young people are reading about others’ struggles and this is an important step to get us all talking about topics such as mental health.


Watch Charly Cox's BODIES, a poem from her 'She Must Be Mad' collection. Charly is a 23 year-old writer who focuses on destigmatizing mental health and the coming-of-age of a young woman surviving the modern world.


By Kaja Zuvac-Graves

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