Meet the mastermind behind the little infinite Voices column and the poetry communities you love so much, Ashleigh Angel.
What goes into managing a community of #instapoets? And selecting new poets to spotlight each week in the little infinite Voices column? I sat down with Ashleigh Angel to chat about what she looks for in an #instapoet for the little infinite Voices column, what’s surprised her the most about online poetry communities, and which poets are doing exceptionally good work these days.
li: What about little infinite drew you to the brand?
AA: It’s very in tune with what’s necessary. I love the community because it’s so smart, and it’s making being smart about literature and poetry cool again. And relatable! It’s about being able to talk about learning with your friends, and poetry is a really cool conversational piece.
And you can use it to better yourself, poetry. The audience little infinite is for, millennials, we all want to learn. There are so many tools, and it brings poetry and digital media together to make a smart, relevant community built on sharing our art.
li: What about poetry makes you love it as a medium?
AA: I like poetry because… Actually, one of our Instagram poets put it perfectly in a comment the other day. She (@disarmingdarling) said, “[Poetry]… is meeting myself in another’s words.”
“It is air. It is wonder. It is journeying, discovery, meeting myself in another’s words. It is the spell being cast and sometimes broken. It is crawling inside the words that shake and move me. It is life.”-Naila Francis (@disarmingdarling)
Poetry really lets you understand yourself, while also having a better view of the world in general. And it doesn’t take much time to read a few poems. You can sit down and read poetry for twenty minutes and it can really change your mood and affect your day. It’s so easy to digest.
li: What’s been the most surprising (and hopefully, delightful) thing about building and managing a community of poets?
AA: How vulnerable they are. They’re fearless, and they’re willing to share deep things that people usually won’t even share with friends and family. And they share like that with our brand handle, which doesn’t even have a face behind it. But they probably don’t even tell their friends the things they comment on our posts. It just has so much meaning behind it. And that means so much to me. They love our mission, and what we stand for.
li: What’s the best part of your job? And don’t say your boss.
AA: I do love the people that I’m surrounded by. And really seeing how much people trust us. I believed in little infinite from the second I heard about it because I am the target audience. It really does make a difference in people’s lives. Poetry is so emotional and therapeutic that it should be easy to talk about. It shouldn’t be something that people are intimidated by. Or feel like they aren’t educated enough to talk about poetry, or even write poetry. So I love widening the conversation that’s happening online in these communities about poetry.
li: You have a very heavy influence over which poets get featured in little infinite Voices each week. Meaning, you basically run this column by yourself, picking who we feature almost every week. What do you look for in community members and #instapoets that you recommend for feature? What sets their work apart?
AA: The first thing, it’s not about how many followers someone has, at all. If you have five hundred followers or if you have two hundred followers or if you have twenty thousand followers, I view each poet the same. Some poets have a greater community and have fewer followers. It’s all about engagement and the impact that they have.
Consistency in posting, too. Obviously, it has to be an active account. Being vulnerable and being yourself is important, too. I love when I see beautiful flat lays and when I can tell poets are really putting work into communicating their poems to their audience. I like to see people put their personality into it. That really helps poets stand out a lot.
li: What advice do you have for poets that are looking to build their own audiences and / or “get discovered”?
AA: Just be vulnerable. You don’t always have to be perfect.
Be active in your social media stories, and let your followers see behind the scenes. Keep your followers updated with projects you’re working on. Maybe you’re working on a book and you can’t talk about it yet, but you can tease it. Let people know that there’s more coming to look forward to.
Show your followers that you are passionate about your art. Maybe poetry isn’t your full-time career, but it is a real career.
li: Name drop a little. Who do you think is using Instagram as a platform exceptionally well?
li: I think Nikita Gill is taking a social media hiaitus right now. And power to her for that.
AA: Yes! So I like that Nikita Gill is real, but what they’ve all done is loop their communities back to their friendship unit. So if you follow one of them, before you know it you’re following all of them. And they’re all awesome, so it’s great. They give you the whole story of the poetry, and their friendship, and the behind the scenes of the poetry industry. They just really do a great job with it.
I also really love what @poetrybyluna is doing. She doesn’t have a huge Instagram following yet, but I’m a huge fan of hers because she really puts effort behind styling her photos. And she shows her audience things beyond poetry.
li: Who’s your favorite poet to read right now?
AA: Honestly, Nikita Gill. She’s my favorite. I always go reaching for her work.
li: Any final advice to the #instapoets out there dreaming big dreams?
AA: Don’t think that the poetry space is too saturated. There’s room for everyone. Connect and build relationships; you can learn a lot from each other, and by talking and venting. You may not have anyone in your friend group that reads poetry or, especially, that writes poetry. But I’ve made friends on Instagram– I know, it may sound weird– but when you have a different passion that not many people have, you can lean on the communities that Instagram and social media provide.
“Just write. Just start. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just start.”-Ashleigh Angel, little infinite Community Specialist
Find your squad. Just write. Just start. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just start.