Friday, March 27, 2009

The Day the Poetry Died?

Signs of Spring, March 27, 2009

As someone who loves and occasionally writes poetry, this lead in line on got my attention a few days ago:

The End of Verse? A recent NEA report finds fiction reading on the rise, while readership of poetry has dropped significantly. Is an art form dying?

I participate in Etsy Bloggers and the current blog carnival offers a couple of topics for writing including this one:
Did you know that March is:* Irish American Month* Music in Our Schools Month* National Craft Month* National Frozen Food Month* National Irish American Heritage Month- designated by Congress in 1995.* National Nutrition Month* National Peanut Month* National Women's History Month* Poetry Month* Red Cross Month* Social Workers Month. Which of these means the most to you, why, and how do you celebrate/remember?

And no, I did not know that March had all those designations though I am not surprised. The fact that it would be National Poetry Month did ring a bell because I recall a previous year when the library featured local poetry in March.

If you are a regular on this blog, you know I write the occasional poem. One of my favorites is here. I've written about a poem written by my father during a time when poetry writing was a much more common past time of youth. You also may recall my blog post about an experience in high school involving memorizing and reciting poetry and the shortest poem in history which you can find here.

But back to the story about poetry reminded me of the song "American Pie" which lamented the day the Buddy Holly died in a plane crash as "the day the music died". I suppose the appreciation of verse could be falling victim in modern times to the general decline of civilization, the Internet, the prevalence of computer games, and the inexplicable (at least from my point of view) fascination with reality TV. I hope our youth are still reading and reciting poetry in school, but at home they are more likely to be sending "tweets" on Twitter than they are to be reading or writing poetry. If you're not familiar with Twitter, it's a website where you are confined to writing no more than 144 characters per message. Not exactly the kind of venue that promotes poetry appreciation. I do admit to being an occasional visitor there where my user name is HMOriginals.

It seems that fiction reading is up, but poetry reading is well...significantly down, poetry readership being at its lowest in 16 years with just 8.3 percent of adults reading any poetry in the preceding 12 months. There has actually been in 50% reduction in poetry readers in the past 6 years. Pretty alarming to someone like me who loves poetry.

With reportedly only 8.3% of adults actually reading poetry, (and assuming you can trust the NEA statistics...They didn't ask me if I read poetry and I'm guessing they didn't ask you either), I guess National Poetry month, which was started in 1996, hasn't been all that successful.

Now, I'm enlisting you, my bloggy readers, to help turn the tide. Vow to read a poem, one of mine, or another poet in what remains of March, 2009. Don't be one of the 91.7% of the population that never reads poetry. Let's make sure 2009 isn't the year the poetry died.


The Fab Miss B said...

I'm lucky to read poetry every single day by having it delivered to my inbox via The Writer's Almanac. I can also listen to Garrison Keilor read them right to me on his pod casts. Hooray for Poetry and thanks for a great post!

Oriri said...

A reader and a writer of poetry here! (e. e. cummings & Poe are two of my favorites.) I only know a bit of Frost, but do love what I have read, as little as it may be!

Poetry won't be dying just yet! <3

uniquecommodities said...

I love poetry!