Thursday, February 02, 2006

Poetry in Crisis

First we heard that the short story was in seriously ill in the UK, and then a serious attempt was made to rescue it. And now poetry has decided to take to its sick bed according to the Observer .

TV presenter and champion of all things poetic Daisy Goodwin, (apparently dubbed the Nigella Lawson of Poetry and you can see why from the piccy on the left!) predicts that

It will be like morris dancing: really interesting to people who do it, and incomprehensible and slightly annoying to people who don't. ... Twenty years ago everyone could name a Larkin or a Betjeman poem and had read them. I think you'd be very hard pressed to find anybody who could name a poem by any of the top 10 poets today. It's an endangered species.
Is Goodwin right? Others in the article (including poet laureate, Andrew Motion, don't agree) but plummeting sales figures for poetry seem to back Goodwin up.

Clearly some emergency resusitation is necessary. But how should it be delivered?

7 comments:

tsetse-fly said...

poetry revival or other forms of 'dying'literature for that matter can be revived thru the educations systems. somehow or other, students themselves shy away from such subjects.

Jane Sunshine said...

I think there's been some buzz lately about 'performance poetry' where the poet basically erhm...performs his words. This is really fun and has created interest amongst different types of people - from the innner city Black rapper-wannabe to the proper country gentleman.

bibliobibuli said...

tsetse fly - of course .. that's a big part of the solution, catch 'em young ... i got to love poetry while i was at school and i hope my teaching has infected others (and so are the teachers i taught)

jane sunshine - hugs and kisses! performance poetry is coming to KL very soon ... watch this space!

dreamer idiot said...

Ah, I beg to differ with Tsetse-fly, at least partially, because having poetry introduced in the education system itself is not enough to guarantee that people will continue to read and love poetry after they leave school or college. Why, isn't poetry already part of the school syllabus in the UK and the US?

Part of the problem, from my one cent opinion, is that people like myself do not have a deep love for poetry to buy poetry books and read them. Moreover, the increasingly frenetic pace of modern life, coupled with the almost relentless information and media assault/ overload, leave us at times 'breathless' with less time and patience for quiet, thoughtful/ contemplative reading. Becoming atuned to the more immediate or instantaneous forms of media (eg.visual and aural,,,) has also play a part in making poetry less ‘readable’ and important. Just my thoughts.

Walker said...

It's called "Slam Poetry" Jane, and I think it's only a matter of time before it takes off over here (UK) like it has in the States. It can be both embarrassing and enthralling to watch, and I personally love the poet-jams by competing contestants (each fighting the other with a spontaneous line).

And I hate to agree with Andrew Motion for a second time this week, but erm...I'm with Andrew Motion on this one. Poetry may have its ups and downs, but it's regarded as an essential part of being a literary publisher, and if Picador's recent (heavy) investment in building a special poetry list is anything to go by, a British revival is just around the corner.

They'll market it to us even if we don't want it. Just you watch. ;-)

Walker said...

Oh, and Dreamer Idiot's second paragraph: Absolutely spot-on! I can contemplate the beauty of a poem's form (never mind its message) for hours. Very much a problem in the fast-moving modern world...but I'm still feeling positive about a revival based on recent publishing developments.

bibliobibuli said...

enjoyed your blog response to this very much, walker ... maybe there are two answers to this question - there is a fundamental need for poetry that will never die and will perhaps be met by the poetry round us (including kylie!) ... but people aren't buying as many books of poetry as they were in the past ... maybe we're getting back to being a more oral/aural society which is where poetry came from in the beginning anyway ...