Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What role should poetry play?

You have probably never heard of Alan Taylor, (in the photo at left, looking a bit like Steve Smith in a Tyrolean mountain climber's hat), but he is a poet who writes the World Class Poetry Blog, a very interesting little piece of work in which he comments, ruminates and opines about all topics poetic. Here is a bit of his wisdom:

"For much of the 20th century, poets have been fixated on experimentation and quite often in very odd ways. A reaction to this experimentation led to a movement in the past 20 years called New Formalism, where some poets tried to revitalize the old forms, but much of what has been done by them has been staid. I think it's time for a new movement. The 21st century is not just a new century. It is also a new millennium. This era is beset with new technologies, untold violence, and a topsy-turvy re-organization of old structures in religion (ordination of women and gay priests), politics (the spread of democracy and fall of authoritarian regimes), education (charter schools and home schooling), and morality (the rise of alternative lifestyles). We can argue about whether these developments are positive or negative, but what role should poetry play in that argument?"

And so I ask you, poets of Cleveland, in your opinion, what role should poetry play?


Pressin On said...

i think the best poetry is had when the poet nurtures a long-standing relationship with his writing, and keeps it healthy, balanced, and like a fine wine--or marriage---allows it to breathe.

at least to me, the value in poetry is getting to see one man or woman's point of view--his/her relationship with the outer world. we can glean much about humanity from a well-communicated perspective. if ya care about gay priests, write it down! if whiskey's where its at, go to it. but keep it between you and Poesy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for turning us on to Alan's blog, Mark. I don't really need another blog to visit every day... lol. But his is too good not to return to regularly.

I think poetry should play a role in giving voice to the oppressed - or to the voiceless who deserve to be heard. To speak truth to power - or at least try to clarify what truth is, as much as it can be clarified. On a personal level I see poetry as therapeutic - as a way to come to terms (and an understanding) with oneself and one's world - as well as a way to evolve humanly (if that wasn't a word before, it is now). I also very much like what Bree said.

Anonymous said...

For me, it's "could" rather than "should." I don't think anyone has a moral obligation with poetry. But I dig it when people are compelled from within to use poetry as a platform to raise consciousness - the Katie Daleys & Terry Provosts of the world are much appreciated by me.

Jackie Sheeler from New York has just produced a new issue of at poetz.com, the planetary issue: http://poetz.com/2008/planetary.htm

I read through the entire thing in one sitting. Excellent excellent stuff about the plight of the environment.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you're right, Kathy, regarding "could" over "should." I'm feeling a personal need to do more - feeling that I should do this or that with my poetry. Guess I ought not apply what I feel I need to do to poetry in general. Different poets should play different roles (there I go with the "should" again... lol). Even the same poet can play a variety of roles. Perhaps the word "should" limits the art.

I don't know. My views on this are still evolving. Just thinking aloud....

pottygok said...

Poets, great poets, tend to be the moral and spiritual pulse of their tribe, the conscience of their people. Poetry should maintain this function.

The concern is getting folks to read it. ;-)


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau