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Eighteen-Year-Old ‘InstaPoet’ Publishes First Poetry Book

A CMN exclusive interview with the inspiring author of ‘Light Filters In.’

Lindsay Wigo

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“She was beautiful, not in the way that some have crystal clear ocean eyes, a double zero on a jean tag, or waves of gold.”

These are the first few lines of a poem posted on young poet, Caroline Kaufman’s poetry Instagram. Little did she know that these lines would lead her to become a published author at age 18.

Harvard University freshman Caroline Kaufman, also known as @poeticpoison on Instagram, is now the author of the book LIGHT FILTERS IN: Poems, a poetry book covering topics and struggles that many teens and young adults have trouble putting into words.

Her poetry book’s inception dates back quite a number of years when she created an Instagram to anonymously express herself and her struggles. Now surpassing 200k followers, her account has been recognized worldwide, even though she never intended for it to be noticed at all.

“I never planned to go public with my account,” Kaufman said in an interview.”It was a diary for me, it talked about my struggles with mental illness, self-harm, even my sexuality.” She started her account while she was on her road to recovery.

“When I was sixteen, my Facebook account automatically connected to my Instagram somehow,” Kaufman said. “Everyone I was friends with on Facebook got a notification that I was on Instagram as @poeticpoison.” Kaufman recalls how she did not notice the occurrence, but when she started getting texts from her friends asking about the account, she was humiliated.

“I mean, it was like my diary was being passed around the school,” she said. “I felt like I had nothing to myself anymore.”

know your power.

A post shared by caroline kaufman (@poeticpoison) on

Eventually, Kaufman became more comfortable with the spreading of her account because it made it easier for her talk about the difficult topics that were already out in the open.

Kaufman’s book tackles a variety of topics that would arise in a teen’s life, like friendship, love, mental, health, acceptance and confidence. However, Kaufman is also a believer in the power of social media for empowerment and activism.

“We are the future of this country,” she said. “It may seem easy to brush us off right now because many of us can’t vote yet and aren’t in positions of power. But it’s only a matter of time until we have that power.”

Through her Instagram, Kaufman has had the opportunity to interact with thousands of people around the world who take comfort in her poetic words.

“I think the most rewarding aspect [about her Instagram] has been the people who have reached out to me individually,” Kaufman said. “So many people have told me that my work described feelings that they could never put into words and it made them feel less alone.” Other followers have said that her words give them hope for a more positive future.

Kaufman started writing because she felt alone and was terrified to talk to anyone about what she was feeling. It became an outlet for her when she was not quite ready to recover.

“I’m not going to sit here and say that poetry completely saved my life, because that’s not true. Therapy saved my life,” she said. “There is no replacement for professional help and I’m so lucky that I was able to get that.”

I used to hate pictures of myself. I hated taking them, I hated looking at them, and I hated hating myself in them. I went through high school trying to figure out how to smile perfectly for the camera, but it always looked fake. because it was fake. but this isn’t about how I felt back then. this is about how I feel now. when I first saw this picture, I didn’t recognize the girl in it. the glowing smile, the hint of a laugh, the aura of happiness. I can’t remember the last time I looked like that in a picture. it’s been years. and yes, I could fixate on my arms, or my chin, and hate myself—but when I look at this picture all I see is the spark of happiness in my eyes. I am getting that spark back. slowly, but surely. recovery is possible. because I love this picture. I LOVE this picture. I love how I look in it, even my arms and my chin. I love it all. and I never thought I’d be able to say that a few years ago. but I am. you can come back, I promise you can. and that spark of happiness? it’s worth everything.

A post shared by caroline kaufman (@poeticpoison) on

Kaufman has been involved with music all of her life and it has been an outlet for as long as she can remember. Some of her inspiration for music and expression are Demi Lovato, Hayley Kiyoko and Amanda Lovelace.

“We think, especially with mental illness, that no one else in the world is experiencing what we are, and it’s so immensely relieving to know there are others out there feeling the same way and surviving.”

Kaufman’s book can be purchased here on Harper Collins Publishers website. It is also available on Amazon for hardcover and Kindle.

Be sure to follow Caroline Kaufman and all of her poetic endeavors on Instagram, @poeticpoison.

Are you looking for digital journalism training and experience? Are you a journalism major who wants to take your career to the next level? CMN’s Digital Journalism course gives you real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to journalism influencers and mentors, and a great place to display your work. You can get academic credit too. Check out the Digital Journalism Course here.

Lindsay is a journalism student and is excited to be working with College Media Network as a writer/reporter. She hopes to work in the journalism field in the future as a features and profiles writer. For more of her work, visit her website: www.lindsaywigo.com

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