Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nice idea ...

... but: An NEA initiative debauches the educational value of verse: Rhyme Scheme. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Poetry Out Loud fails in practice, however, to emphasize sufficiently those qualities of poetry essential to its educative power. It is not simply that the program has been avowedly influenced by hip-hop, with its typically monotonous rhythms, and by “slam poetry,” a form of expression more akin to political propaganda than to art. A deeper problem is that the Poetry Out Loud anthology, on which participants must draw in choosing the poems they recite, favors modern poets, many of whom lack the rhythmical sophistication of the acknowledged masters of versification—the major poets in the literary canon. Of some 360 poets featured in the online anthology, more than 200 were born after 1910. With poetry so recent, it is difficult to distinguish poems with a permanent value from those that reflect transient fashions. Much of the poetry chosen for the anthology is, moreover, metrically irregular; whatever the other merits of this verse, it cannot match the intricacy and musical complexity of poetry composed in fidelity to the traditional rubrics of metrical order.

Underlying this, of course, is the usual crap about relevance.

1 comment:

  1. Hmn, indeed. Mixed feelings from this poet. The whole "spoken word" movement is indeed heavily influenced by hip-hop, and Slams in particular are monotonous showcases for one style of poetry. The idea of trying to expand that is a good one, to retake spoken word for the rest of poetry. One can always argue about what to include, and what to leave out—the most traditionalist choices not always being the best ones available. But at the same time, there's no problem with poetry being performed more; more readings, more recitations, more performances, those are all good things.

    So, mixed. Gotta take the good and the bad together, as usual. The rest is probably just taste.