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Who Is Afraid of Poetry?

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In the writing site where I belong, there is a SLAM underway. It is not the kind of oral SLAM that goes on in the coffee houses, but it is a friendly online poetry competition that is considered a huge event by our members. Poetry is a big craze in our site, and although the site is a general writing site, almost every member has tried his hand in poetry.

Most anyone interested in reading or writing a poem has to be grateful to the internet for making poetry a popular art form and giving the poets a position, a face, and an outlet for exhibiting their work. Somehow, our culture had forgotten about poetry or denigrated it to the lowest level of the language arts caste, and most poets have lived under the shadow of being a sloth and not getting a “real” job.

Maybe this was because the poets told too much of the hurtful truths no one wanted to acknowledge, or may be because, as a culture, we were so spoiled with our material riches that we paid less attention to the intelligence of the soul.

This scornful attitude against poetry exhibits itself very clearly in the news media. Without naming titles, if we just think of major newspapers in our major cities, we find that most of them devote pages and sections to books written by VIPs and bimbos, theater arts, the music world, style, food, travel, real estate, etc. I have never seen any such newspaper to allocate a section, or even a page to poetry. Why is that, I wonder?

Isn’t poetry considered news from the core of homo sapien matters and our collective consciousness in the most succinct form? Or is it because VIPs, emperors, politicians, etc. are afraid poetry will change people from the inside and they will not be as vulnerable? Or is it because poetry is probably the only art form that knows no gender bias?

All through the centuries, poets have spoken to and changed perception of the masses, be it with a phrase, a figure of speech, or a line or two. Who can forget William Cowper’s “God moves in a mysterious way,” or Emerson’s “All mankind love a lover,” or Whitman’s “Freedom–to walk free and own no superior,” or Emily Dickinson’s “A wounded deer leaps the highest,” even if we don’t quite remember who said it?

Poetry’s earliest start is as old as mankind, for poetry used to be oral and the greatest poets of any tribe or clan were held in high esteem. Today, in some ways, poetry is returning to its roots at festivals, coffee houses, slams, open-mikes, and hip-hop, rap, and youth events. Still, this is not enough to sate the hunger of the masses for poetry.

At least, there is one venue where the Google searches affirm poetry’s popularity; the internet has provided an outlet for the poem and for the performance of the individual, whether a true poet or an enthusiast.

In an era, when humanistic thought is breaking through political borders, more attention to poetry is needed from the media so the world can be changed from the depths of its soul and enslaved minds can be liberated. If a new definition for interaction of the humans on this earth is in order, poetry has to become a part of that definition.

Joy Cagil is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Poetry. Her education is in foreign languages and linguistics. She has also trained in psychology, humanities, mental health, women’s issues, and visual arts. Her portfolio can be found at http://www.Writing.Com/authors/joycag


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  • Posted On December 11, 2006
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