Does Poetry Matter?

The short answer is yes, even though people seem to have less time and energy to sit around reading and analyzing poetry, especially when things such as the Internet, frenetic music, and violent TV shows exist. They don’t want to read a poem four times in a search for its meaning. They don’t want to think about the hard subjects and strong emotions that poetry can evoke.

Sometimes I include myself in that “they.” After a long day, the last thing I want to do is pore over a complicated piece of reading material, so I turn to something quick and easy. So I can’t blame people for not reading poetry. That’s not to say that it’s not worth it to read (or write). It’s always worthwhile to take a rest from all the craziness and read a poem that can take you back to days when life went by a little more slowly, or to get out a sheet of paper and write down your own emotions when you are overwhelmed.

What I find interesting (and upsetting) is that the closest things to mainstream poetry nowadays seem to be rap, text messages, Twitter posts, and those terrible “poems” on greeting cards. These brief, rapid-fire messages can create accurate mental images and evoke emotion, but I don’t think they can truly be compared with poetry. They’re more like those accidental “found” poems that can be constructed by cutting out newspaper headlines and arranging them on paper.

Maybe some of the better rappers labor over their verses like the poets of yesteryear once did, but it’s highly unlikely that a sender of text messages or a Twitter user does the same. The latter two are trying to convey thoughts in the quickest way possible. If it sounds like poetry, it’s probably an accident.

“Real” poetry is something that you read and discuss in high school and college and most likely never talk about or seek out again. If you ask the proponents of increased focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education in schools, you will find that they seem to consider poetry a lesser (and less useful) pathway to progress. But without poetry, we would be losing much, and we would put less faith in the power of words to change lives and share emotion.

4 thoughts on “Does Poetry Matter?

  1. I find the analogy of it being a comparison of fast food vs a meal at a restaurant quite a good one- It’s quick and easy to just binge on fast food, whereas in a restaurant you take your time and savor the food. I’m a fellow writer, who does a lot of short stories on my blog, I’d be honoured to see some feedback if you have time. I’ve followed your blog, keep up your writing 🙂

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    1. She must be one of the few good rappers out there, but I doubt the people who listen to mainstream rap would listen to her.

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