Poetry- An Extinct Art ?


What follows is completely a personal viewpoint to which none need to subscribe. Am neither a subject matter expert with respect to poetry nor have I read volumes and volumes of classics. I am just the ordinary kind who fell in love with poetry at a very young age.  An age when I hardly knew what LOVE and the pain associated with it was.  An age in which the need to impress the opposite sex was near to null. Honestly speaking, I ‘experienced’ poetry for a considerable number of years before I could even muster the courage to ‘experiment’ with penning one.

To me, Poetry is an art that elevates a feeling or an idea through a language’s aesthetics. It delivers wonderfully conceived thoughts in place of verbose semantic content (In place of not instead of).

To me, it should not just appeal but should make the reader think and get lost in tides of thoughts and interpretations. Its simplicity can awe you, its complexity can intrigue you but it shouldn’t make you abruptly stop, except for reflection. Simply put, its premise can make you cringe but not the content/presentation.

Many would contend that “Poetry” has its root in ” Creation” and it is highly personal and therefore there is nothing as good/bad poetry. I often find that statement to be  overrated and laced with hypocrisy for I have seen the very  person shaming few other works. Some might even contend that poetry NEED NOT follow logic or be factual. Let it not, but, at least let it not be senseless. An array of words with meaning, arranged rhythmically DOES NOT QUALIFY AS A POEM. Your leads and comparisons can be notional/highly creative but it can’t be out-worldishly-fatuous. Like, “pelting a nonexistent dog with invisible stones.” Unless you are trying a metaphor for “POINTLESS”
It can be super erotic and highly sensational but not senseless pile of words under the blanket of crude and real. Asking your love to “Cut me open and pull my heart out and take a bite at it” is plain GROTESQUE, neither crude nor real.

I recently came across this wonderful post  that talked about what is wrong with contemporary poets. In the post the author clearly articulates how modernism has ruined contemporary poetry in name of “Making It New” and in the relentless pursuit of making it new, poem after poem, we have transcended into an era of the absurd and meaningless.

As usual everything is all about a kind of unusualness. There’s ordinary sensationalism, as when the word anus or the word hegemon suddenly appears in a poem about a bowl of fruit. There’s unconventional typography: the italic voice-from-the-beyond, secret indentation systems, banished punctuation, etc. But there is also a new, relentless infatuation with whimsical discontinuity. One tactic is obscurity, which may include nonsequential thinking, ellipsis, or dreamlike imagery. Obscurity can be wild (Breton), atmospheric (Bishop), or imitative of thought (Eliot). It can reward you with a mind-blowing revelation (Dickinson). But the obscurity I’ve encountered recently is merely outlandish, and unyielding. It vibrates with the superficiality of fashion: there is nothing better for it to do but stand there being cute and empty.

In the end, poetry looks radical only to the outside world, which ignores it, while from inside it looks static. Poets got out of these situations before by doing something new, but novelty is superfluous now. There is no way to get into the game without upping the ante, and there is no way out without bluffing or folding or everyone agreeing on a new game. If you’ve been a poet for a while you might not see how bizarre it all seems, and how monotonous, but if you shake your head and look again as a human being, you might.

This is not just the fate of poetry.The post modernist movement, the advent of internet and easy access to information has made the entire art of writing rusty. This questionable era of avant garde is killing literature. Gone are the days when it took you years and at least a dozen rejections before you get your work published. Vanity publishing is the biggest culprit of all. You can  publish absolutely anything, market that substandard pile of words with a pointless plot, buy good reviews and the worst of all, call yourself an author of a best seller.

People experimenting with poetry or any form of art are not wrong.  What is appalling is their inability to take constructive criticism.  Somehow I feel it is more to do with collective mindset of the majority. When the majority prefers quick eats and junk to a balanced course, who are to be blamed?  Often, constructive criticism is mistaken for rudeness or egocentric rants.

Under these circumstances, I believe poetry as I knew it, is slowly moving extinction. What I predominantly see is its evolutionary cousin who according to me is plain chalk.

All I ask for is something that I can read; lie back and slowly cud chew every line with an inward smile. I want to feel:

That warm tingle that Frost’s “Stolen Boat Ride” gave.

The ice that glided through my heart when I read the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

The rebellion that Mahakavi’s work brewed

All I see is :

“I let it in
  I let it out
  In 10 months time
  A baby came out”

*Endless dejected sway *

4 thoughts on “Poetry- An Extinct Art ?

  1. Pingback: Picks of the week 19/3/2016 – 25/3/2016 – The Chennai Bloggers Club

  2. I read this somewhere today. This is also why people dont take criticism. It’s a ‘this beauty is beyond your reach’ attitude.

    “People always make the mistake of thinking art is created for them. But really, art is a private language for sophisticates to congratulate themselves on their superiority to the rest of the world. As my artist’s statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance.”

    – Calvin and Hobbes

  3. Oru vaasagam sonnaalum thiruvaasagama sonenga! Oops! It rhymed, Am I a poet now??

    But on a serious note, this was a long overdue message to the world at large. Thanks for sharing this !

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