Every so often, writers as a breed get down on themselves. In the US, particularly, there seems to be little thirst for poetry, and few kudos are ever received, by those who work long and hard at this ancient art form. I suppose, the public at large think that we poets are much like those who weave or make candles or sew or knit by hand, much like the blacksmith or the wheelwright or some other purveyor of an obsolete medieval skill. in other words, we are Luddites. Why can’t we just get with the program?
Perhaps rhyme became obsolete, as soon as the written word was made available to all in the form of printed books. There was no more need for wandering minstrels, nor for the rhyme and meter that helped them remember their tales. Yet we still listen to songs, and we still admire craftsmanship in other things.
This poem conveys the regretful angst of a poet devoted to the art of rhymed verse. Why shouldn’t he feel sorry for himself, in an age in which Taste dictates, that rhyme be used only for children’s books, songs and advertising jingles?
By the way, I love this Art-Deco-inspired Regal Cinema façade. But I can also understand, that it might be not quite to everyone’s taste.
My public has grown tired of rhyme,
That dull, resounding metronome
That marks the beat and knells the tone.
That bell that tolls, it tolls for me.
My public has grown tired of rhyme.
Of cadence. Weary to the bone.
And though my meter’s perfect, groan,
And long to begone, my poetry.
My public finds my meter slow
And somnorific. Lacking time,
They scroll and tweet a quip sublime,
Abandoning me, with friends in tow.
My public finds my meter slow,
So gradually, my words align,
Increasing pace and marking time
With slogans and with slang they know.
A dull style, as performance goes:
Mere written word. Their toes will tap
When witnessing spontaneous rap
Or song, or nonsense-spouting shows.
There’s method in my structured words–
But clearly, method makes it worse!
They’d much prefer I chant, or curse–
So they bind my rhyme in ligatures.
And what’s my violent, capitol crime?
Why lies my rhyme in a silent hearse?
My techniques do not suit the times,
My every verse.
Copyright 2022 Andrea LeDew
For more on the art and angst of trying to be a writer, read A Word, The Writer, Until Dawn and Less Precious.
Great article on the decline of poetry readership linked by one of my loyal readers: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/04/24/poetry-is-going-extinct-government-data-show/
Seems I hit the nail on the head!:)
Hmm, I just read the article. Could it be that people are writing poetry but not reading it? I’d also want to see how the survey question was worded and how survey participants were chosen/recruited. Also, the survey data is from 2012, which in the Digital Age is ancient history. Not to be a contrarian or anything . . . (Or perhaps I refuse to believe that poetry is a dying artform.) It would be interesting to see public library collection and acquisition data on poetry books.
Thanks Liz for that insightful comment. Maybe I spoke too soon with the “nail on the head” comment. I remember hearing Jane Friedman say in her course How to Publish Your Book on Great Courses, that maybe online is not the correct venue for certain types of writing. It doesn’t necessarily mean people are not reading poetry, if they just don’t put it in their search bar. Nonetheless, it seems there ought to be an online place for this stuff that is at least as legitimate and sought after, as its paper rival. If the internet is supposed to be a facsimile of the actual world and more often than not acts as a substitute for it, shouldn’t poetry be somewhere in the mix? Or are we going to go with the Decline of Western Civilization hypothesis, and assume future generations are doomed?
Sorry if that was nonresponsive to your comment, Liz. You are of course right that there are statistics and then there are damn statistics. Not necessarily the most scholarly of articles, but even a morsel of truth can be enlightening. Let me know if you come across some more encouraging stats!
You’re welcome, Andrea. Here is a website you might want to check out: https://dversepoets.com/. They have a community of poets who write poetry based on weekly prompts. Anyone is welcome to join. Many of the prompts are for formal poetry with set meter and rhyme schemes. The Kenyon Review is one of several prestigious literary magazines that have an online version featuring poetry. https://kenyonreview.org/kr-online-issue/2021-novdec/ Here’s another good online source of contemporary poetry and associated discussion. https://www.thewoventalepress.net/2020-poetry-page/
Thanks for the links,Liz!
You’re welcome, Andrea!