Poetry is a dirty word. Often when people think of poetry, they think of some tragic soul spewing nonsensical drivel or otherwise torturing the audience with their vision. Perhaps we have seen one too many parodies of beret-wearing beat poets reciting pretentious rhymes, or maybe modern society lacks the attention span and desire to think deeply about what poetry requires.
Yet poetry lives on. In these very pages, you will read about one of the last living beat poets – Michael McClure – reading his poetry at SFU, and our own Valentine’s Day poetry slam here at UFV provided a modern update for where the medium is going. Although the dominant artistic narrative of our time currently appears to be film and television (see opinion section), poetry may survive a bit longer because of the tenacity of its admirers and the elegance of its form.
Our lack of attention span may prove to be redemptive for poetry. While few people make the time to read for pleasure, poetry can be consumed in smaller morsels, requiring less investment. The comparison of hip-hop music to poetry has been made before, and although the often crude and misogynistic lyrics of mainstream rap music may turn many listeners off, much true poetry can be found within the genre. Numerous underground rap artists cut their teeth on the slam poetry form, including Sage Francis and Saul Williams. The popularity of hip-hop could well be the saviour of poetry in the future, as would-be wordsmiths are inspired by the agility of mind that it takes to write rhymes with flow and concision.
Poetry will not die as long as there is meaning to be conveyed and the means with which to convey it. Long live poetry. Long live the art of capturing life in as few words as possible.