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Atticus’ work and persona ― like the work and personas of other popular instagram poets ― are perfectly calibrated to attract fans: bland, generic, aesthetically pleasing, and therefore the perfect projection screen for readers’ desires. He specializes in the sort of broadly phrased epigrams about love and heartbreak that people eagerly like and share online, often printed over white backgrounds or saturated photos of long-maned, long-legged girls. One of his most beloved, oft-quoted poems romantically urges the reader to “love her, but leave her wild”; women caption instagram selfies with atticus lines like “just enough madness to make her interesting” and “she wore a smile like a loaded gun.” he’s prone to maudlin images that wouldn’t be out of place in a country song, like women with “whiskey-sipping / skinny-dipping” smiles.

The poetry might be bad, but it is too inoffensive and nonspecific to alienate. Inspirational quotes for graduating college seniors anyone can see themselves in atticus’ poetry, and what they’ll see is a slightly heightened version of themselves, enigmatic and alluring.

Young seems to be behind much of the apparatus, not just the artistic work, of his own poetry career ― but, like atticus, he has taken some pains to disguise who he actually is. Months after our original interview, when I reached out to young with a follow-up question, he rather casually told me that “thom young” was a collective of four writers who met at texas tech university ― though he, the person with whom I’d been corresponding, was the primary one. I was bewildered, and pressed him: was thom young the real name of the primary writer? Who were the others? He finally responded, saying that he, laudati and a writer named matt blythe all wrote under the name “thom young.” I asked laudati, who did not attend texas tech and met young more recently, about this. He seemed confused, saying they were working together on a book but were not a collective working under that name. Famous education quotes for teachers I can find no evidence of blythe, who is listed as the coauthor of young’s satirical novel instapoet , existing anywhere but an instagram account that interacts with young’s. Its profile picture is a stock photograph.

Young’s publishing and social media history is a web of feints and tricks, but in one case, I thought he was telling the truth. He has appeared several times on “the stark truth,” a small radio show that often features people on the political fringes. In the course of one interview, young mentioned some of his book covers were designed by his brother jeb, who owned a business called tumbleweed texstyles. A man named jeb does co-own tumbleweed texstyles ― jeb matulich. Thom young has commented on matulich’s blog, junky trinkets. “congrats bro, doing big things,” he wrote on a 2013 post. A man named ben matulich was listed as a teacher on a texas high school website, and his education seemed near-identical to the education history listed on young’s linkedin: graduated from texas tech in 1997, followed by a master’s in biblical studies from dallas theological seminary in 2001. I checked the phone number at which I’d reached young earlier that year: it was listed as belonging to ben matulich. Even his email, I noticed at this point, featured the initials “BJM.”

The logic here is reminiscent of right-wing trolling and victim posturing online. Intolerance of racists is framed as just as wrong as intolerance of marginalized racial groups; if acceptance is the goal, this logic goes, why can’t you liberals accept that some of us want a white ethnostate? There’s also a telling use of “satire” as a deflection: I said something offensive only to prove OTHER PEOPLE are offensive. Motivational quotes for students for exams if it’s all just a joke, everyone else is silly to take it seriously ― a stance that proved devastatingly effective for alt-right trolls that propagated shitposting culture and pepe memes. It’s not that young is an alt-right troll ― but in a similar vein, reading through his instagram or his satirical novel, there’s so much directionless “satire” and misinformation that it’s impossible to pin down what he’s telling the truth about, which appears to be exactly his aim. If the character of atticus was built to capture the ambient yearning of people on social media, young has engineered a persona to channel their rage ― at artistic gatekeepers and frauds, above all.