Monday, April 28, 2008

Is poetry dead?

Jenni, from Papercraft Designs, wrote an interesting post recently questioning whether poetry was really as dead as it seems.

Personally, I think that the general population has had any potential liking for poetry drilled out of them at school, especially those of my generation. Poetry can be so overanalysed that it leaves no mystery in it. The words can't be appreciated for their beauty alone in case we have missed some deep and critical meaning.

I often wonder whether poets care how we interpret their poems? Who are they writing for - us or themselves? If I was to write a poem I would write it for myself as a means of expressing the thought or feeling within me, but I would hope that the reader interprets it in a way that means something to them. Then I would feel that my poem was a success.

These poems are by modern poet Billy Collins. He has a wonderful way with words and on reading this first poem I think he agrees with me. Poetry was lost when we began to pull it apart.

Introduction To Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Billy Collins

Now listen to this humourous work, also by Billy Collins and tell me that you don't connect with it! You don't need to beat it with a hose to find the essence of this one. Poetry will not be dead with writers like this around.


Jenni said...

It is am interesting topic, isn't it?
As I mentioned in my post, it depends on how one perceives the art of poetry.

Michelle said...

Yes you are right when you talk about school beating it out of us - it didn't make for a very interesting topic and English was my favourite class. I love the visual poetry though - it is a great way to capture the heart and minds of modern readers.

Kathryn said...

This guy is great. I enjoyed both poems, they both rang a bell somehow with me. Analysing art in any form can take away that pleasurable ting you feel when the art form resonates with you. Thanks for the post.