Life[edit | edit source]
Youth and education[edit | edit source]
"We were very poor," he recalls. "I remember in elementary school, there was always a book fair every year. I'd see all the other kids getting books. My parents couldn't afford it." His parents were too poor to afford cable television.
He began writing at 7, composing and illustrating his own Spiderman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan stories.
He attended Miami Coral Park Senior High, where he was initially a misfit due to his unstylish clothes and ignorance of teen culture. "I hated high school for the first two years," he later recalled. "I experienced a lot of bullying." Sometimes he pretended to be ill, just so he could stay home that day. He continued writing and painting through high school, and in time got into hip-hop, break dancing, and graffiti art, which helped him gain acceptance. 
He took English at Dade College, where he discovered John Steinbeck, Virginia Woolfe, and Albert Camus (whose novel The Stranger made a great impression on him). He also studied painting, sculpture, and music, and went on to study digital communication at Florida International University (FIU). A childhood friend had called him "Bobby Drake" (after the superhero in the Marvel X-Men series), and at FIU he began signing his pictures "Robert M. Drake." He graduated from FIU with a fine arts degree in 2010.
Career[edit | edit source]
After graduation Drake briefly worked as a content developer for a small company, then took a job as the art director at Spanish-language TV broadcaster Univision.
He joined Instagram in November 2012, and began posting his poetry there the following October. He would type each poem using an antique 1940s Royals typewriter on handmade paper, and photograph and upload the image. He also made stencils of some of his poems, and used them to spray paint his poetry around the city, mainly on sidewalks. "Ultimately, as an artist, that's one of the goals," he says. "You want people to see and critique it. I put my work out there to the point where it'll be very hard to ignore who I am." By 2014 his Instagram account had grown to 40,000 viewers.
Actress Sohia Bush was the 1st celebrity to repost a Drake poem. In 2014 Khloé Kardashian began following Drake on Instagram and regularly reposting his work; almost immediately his number of followers shot up to 150,000.
By 2015 Drake was receiving more than 2,000 reposts a day on Instagram. His followers included more than 30 celebrities, including Bush, Kardashian, Taye Diggs, Ludacris, Paris Hilton, Trina, Jermaine Dupri, Keyshia Cole, Wu-Tang Clan, and Khloé's half-sisters, Kylie and Kendall Jenner. He had a million followers on Instagram and a half-million on Tumblr, and was gaining 25,000 followers a week on Facebook and Twitter.
His online success allowed Drake to sign a distribution deal, selling his self-published books through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. In August 2014, he published his debut collection, Beautiful Chaos, which rose to #4 on Amazon's bestseller chart, and quickly sold more than 30,000 copies. By the following month, it had sold 50,000. Inspired by that success, he quit his job at Univision to write full-time.
He continues to live and work in Miami, where he deliberately maintains a low profile. He tends to shy away from attention, and turns down invitations to poetry readings and television interview requests. “I just feel better when no one really knows who I am,” he has said.
Writing[edit | edit source]
The Miami Herald notes that "Macias’ posts are easily distinguishable by his fans for their succinctness in verse and visual appeal — both of which the 32-year-old credits to his success." CBS Miami calls them "short, concise and easy to relate to; they are filled with words about self-discovery, loneliness, heart-break and love." His art gallery adds: "Macias writes from the heart, using personal experiences to create lyrical text. From short stories and longer poems to succinct one-sentence verses, Macias touches his readers by displaying a genuine expression of emotion."
His fans adore his work, not only reposting, but responding with comments like, "Yes yes yes yes exactly!!!", "He speaks for me," "Wow #truth", "mind explosion," and ”I think Drake is writing for us.”
As well as more than a million followers, though, his work has some detractors. Chauncey Mabe, a former book critic for the Sun Sentinel, says that "[Macias'] poems seem like those of a very young and immature fellow who is trying to think hard about life. It's Hallmark card level. Only really, really depressed Hallmark cards."
Publications[edit | edit source]
- Beautiful Chaos. Lulu.com / CreateSpace, 2014; Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel, 2016.
- Science: The stars in me are the stars in you. Lulu.com, 2015.
- A Brilliant Madness. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel, 2015.
- Seeds of Chaos. [Vintage Wild?], 2017.
- Broken Flowers, and other stairways to heaven. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel, 2017.
- Moon Theory. Robert M. Drake, 2017.
- Star Theory. Vintage Wild, 2018.
- Light Theory. Vintage Wild, 2018.
- Chaos Theory. Vintage Wild, 2018.
Novels[edit | edit source]
- Black Butterfly. Lulu.com, 2015; Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel, 2016.
- Gravity. Vintage Wild, 2017.
Short fiction[edit | edit source]
- Beautiful and Damned: Stories. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel, 2016.
Non-fiction[edit | edit source]
- Spaceship: A collection of quotes for the misunderstood. Lulu.com, 2014.
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
Notes[edit | edit source]
- R.M. Drake, Avant Gallery. Web, July 29, 2018.
- He gave his age as 32 in November 2015 (Kaur 2015) and March 2016 (Swenson 2016).
- Kyle Swenson, "How Did R.M. Drake's sidewalk poetry earn a million followers and a Best-Selling Book?, Miami New Times, February 16, 2016. Web, July 29, 2018.
- Brahamdeep Kaur, "The Famous R.M. Drake," The Roaring Times. Web, July 29, 2018.
- "South Florida Poet Making His Mark," CBS Miami, May 4, 2015.
- Jackie Salo, "Miami poet R.M. Drake reinvigorates enthusiasm for poetry through Instagram," Miami Herald, March 25, 2015. Web, July 29, 2018.
- Heba Hasan, Who is R.M. Drake? How One Writer Used Instagram To Become An Amazon Best-Seller," Tech Times, February 2015. Web, July 29, 2018.
- Star Theory, Amazon.com. Web, July 29, 2018.
- Light Theory, Amazon.com. Web, July 29, 2018.
- Chaos Theory, Amazon.com. Web, July 29, 2018.
- Search results = au:Robert M Drake, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, July 29, 2018.
[edit | edit source]
- Robert M. Drake at Pinterest
- 8 Worthwhile Robert Drake poems at The Odyssey
- robert m drake at PoemHunter (11 poems)
- Audio / video
- "South Florida Poet Making his Mark," CBS Miami
- "Meet R.M. Drake, Instagram's Most Famous Poet," Fusion TV
- "How Did R.M. Drake's sidewalk poetry earn a million followers and a Best-Selling Book?, Miami New Times
- "Miami poet R.M. Drake reinvigorates enthusiasm for poetry through Instagram," Miami Herald
- rmdrake at Instagram
- R.M. Drake at Facebook
- R.M. Drake: The Instagram poet with 1.2 million followers interview at Roxyburger
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