Let me clarify: it’s not me asking. It’s the Washington Post.
Alexandra Petri, one of the paper’s pundits, investigated the assertion in an article last week (which I just discovered now). And I quote: “Poets are like the Postal Service — a group of people sedulously doing something that we no longer need, under the misapprehension that they are offering us a vital service.” What’s more, the article goes on to quote playwright Gwydion Suilebhan in delivering the dramatic title of this post: “Poetry is dead. What pretends to be poetry now is either New Age blather or vague nonsense or gibberish. It’s zombie poetry.”
By her own estimation, in fact, there is “no longer, really, any formal innovation possible.” That world-shaking revelations such as “Howl” or “The Waste Land” are no longer possible in a world where high production movies, video games, and other media are able to do everything the poet can do, but better.
Petri, naturally, was using this as a parallel point to journalism, which if any of you have been following the course of in recent years, is in very dire straits itself. If poetry is dead, then what of journalism?
Personally, I think it is exactly like journalism–in the regards that there will be a struggle for a time, a chaotic crumbling of identity whereby everyone is scrambling to rediscover just what it can be. But is it dead? Will it die? Certainly not. The identity will change. The nature of it will change, and find new ground. But I dare say–nay, I dare hope–this old dose of the literary, stalking us from the very dawning of civilization, is so engrained in us that it could never truly, utterly die.
So poets, journalists, I ask you, what do you think? What are your insights to this, and where do you think things are heading?
- 10 Reasons Poetry’s Not Dead (flavorwire.com)
- Pretzels&BullFights ~ Open call for Poetry Submissions, a dVerse Anthology (dversepoets.com)
- So What If Poetry Is Dead? (elizabethkateswitaj.net)