Whatever Happened to Poetry?
If you are like many people, the last or perhaps only exposure you’ve had to poetry was in a high school English class. For most readers’ poetry as a viable genre is either “MIA” or non-existent. While poetry is often viewed as the forgotten member of the literary family, a majority of its devotees and followers are aspiring poets.
Why is poetry, literature’s original art form which has been with mankind virtually since its beginning, now thought to be ‘staid and archaic’ to the point of exclusion? The historical roots of poetry go back to the first humans who sat around fires telling stories of survival, traditions and ancestry. Their oral renditions retold to successive tribal generations set the stage for epic tales, which would become the mainstay of literature and theater for evolving empires and civilizations.
Poetic fables were often short morality vignettes, which would draw listeners into the action and character plights using a variety of expositions or expressions including rhymes, songs, choral refrains and descriptive dialogues to tell the story.
Throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance poetry achieved growth and glory as it provided both entertainment and education for masses of illiterate people. During the Enlightenment period of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, poetry attained a pinnacle position in literature, which then gave birth to its many diverse forms, eventually leading to the fundamentals and rejoinders of musical lyrics people have enjoyed singing since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and throughout the twentieth century.
Today most people have been exposed to or have assimilated poetic rhymes from childhood fairy tales and their earliest bed-time story experiences. Poetry’s pre-reading introduction has helped millions to form, learn and establish the foundational pillars of the reading process.
So where has poetry gone? Why does poetry currently live in the literary shadows? Poetry still offers readers opportunities for growth and enjoyment, because poetry is unique.
Can tell a story with a beginning, middle and end in bite sized, brief or concise formats and lengths.
Can offer an emotional pull and connection to every reader, regardless of age, gender, social, economic or political preference.
Can represent or jump from plot to plot, character to character, scene to scene with transitional ease.
May be employed as a style application for every other literary genre.
Makes use of themes, events, and lessons of life in quick and easy to read presentations.
Is the perfect match for a ‘Twitter’ reading world.
Where is poetry? It’s alive and well. You may have to look a little harder or dig a little deeper, but poetry is everywhere. Go ahead, read a poem today. You’ll recognize the joy of it, because a poet lives in each of us.
In the Hawaiian language, "Mana'o" (ma na o) is the word used to describe 'thoughts, ideas, and opinions'.
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