Thursday, March 27, 2014

Is Poetry Dead?

Is Poetry Dead? asks Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post.

I have lots of opinions (and have written at least two unpublished blogs) about spoken word poetry, most of my feelings are fairly negative but I think it's a semantic issue. I like performance art, which is what I feel spoken word poetry is- but as a written art form, it lacks in subtlety, complexity, craft, and depth. You can disagree with me, and most of you probably do, but I love written poetry. I love the cadence, the slow moving flow that the written word gives us- and I like hearing the poets slowly spill them out at readings.

Slam poetry matters, to my chagrin. It speaks to many people. I can appreciate that. I was watching a powerful piece that a friend forwarded to me:


And I put aside my frustration for the poetry in spoken word poetry to just be present with the video. Something that occurred to me: the repetition that generally annoys me is a part of the oral tradition. People like Homer and Sappho were using repetition as a part of their work (which was relayed orally). I cooled my jets.

I still maintain that spoken word and the written word are radically different, and I'm still not a fan of most performance poetry, but it's very much a part of our culture. It speaks to a lot of people.

Let's be real: poetry has never really been a craft that can support somebody. Sure, there have been a few
people here and there, but most of the classic poets were already independently wealthy, aristocrats, or sponsored by some rich family.

So all of these ramblings culminate to this thought: I hate that we're even asking the question "Is Poetry Dead?"

  • People still listen and read it. 
  • People are still writing it.
  • Poetry has had many incarnations and manifestations in our history and in our present: limericks, lyrics, spoken word, epic, etc., etc. It morphs and flows with our language and culture, and that's okay. That's what it's supposed to do.