From Our Staff | July 10, 2017

Hello poets! The Missouri Review is running our first ever Instapoetry competition. There are two contests: Regional (specific to poets in Columbia, Missouri, where our journal is located) and Regular (everyone else!). If you win, your poem will be featured on our Instagram page so that our followers can find your amazing work!

So—what is Instapoetry? How do you make it? And how do you submit your Instapoem to us? Let’s get started!

  1. Instapoetry—A Beginner’s Guide

Instapoetry is a term for a poem contained within a photograph and posted on Instagram. “Instagram Poetry,” or “Instapoetry,” has no set-in-stone definition beyond that. Find some examples herehere, and here.

Notice that there are several ways to go. Some poets simply put their poem on a white background, using either a computer font or their own handwriting. Others combine the text with an image or a designed background. Still others present their poems as typewriter snippets or blackout/erasure poems.

  1. Writing Your Instapoem

I’ll be using Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro” as my example. I am using someone else’s poem to demonstrate the process, but please do not enter the work of anyone other than yourself in this contest.

In a Station of the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;

Petals on a wet, black bough.

This is a haiku-like poem that packs a lot of power in just a few lines. Although there are no rules for Instapoetry, you should try to be concise, as the poem must fit within a photograph. Every word counts in something this short!

If you have a longer poem, or a few that don’t quite work for Instapoetry, please submit your work to the Missouri Review for a chance to be published in our literary journal.

  1. Designing Your Instapoem

I began by playing around with font, background, and textures:photo 1

If you like, you can also edit and add some fun elements to your poem using design tools. The key for this contest is to be visual minded as well as word aware.

If you decide to try photo editing, make sure to do some research before downloading an app. Personally, I prefer to use PicsArt, since it is easy to manage on a touch screen (and is free!).

There are a lot of other free apps or websites you can use, however, such as Canva or Priime.

And, of course, there is plenty of editing software you can purchase, such as BLACK or Enlight.

I used PicsArt for my edit, and played around with some saved pictures on my phone and blending tools until I got this (left):image 2

Again, use whatever tools work best for you and your poem, and remember that there are no rules!

  1. Submitting Your Instapoem

When you have finished your entry, email your designed Instapoem as a jpg, png, PDF, Word doc, or Google doc to There is no submission fee (or prize money, alas).

In the subject line of the email, please state the contest you are submitting to and your name. So, for example, your subject line might be “Regional Contest: Erica Hampton.”

In the body of the email, please include a short bio and your Instagram handle (if you have one).

We will allow previously published work as long as you retain the rights to it.

No deadline—the contest is open until we say otherwise! 

We will let you know via email if we want to feature your poem on our Instagram page. We look forward to seeing your work! Follow us at @themissourireview!