Poetry and Popular Culture

Is poetry too complicated for the average reader? Is it too cryptic, scholarly? If you ask a large group of average people what they like or don't like about poetry, you'll get a few different answers, but there is an overwhelmingly common category of responses.

One of the main reasons that people say they aren't addicted to contemporary poetry is that they feel it is too cryptic. The language, they say, isn't tangible. Despite the fact that there are a great many contemporary poets out there writing and performing poetry that appeals to the non-cryptic taste of many would-be enthusiasts, this poetry isn't highly visible in the popular media.

The second reason that some people say they aren't interested in poetry is that their idea of poetry is based on the old classical stuff they were forced to read in high school. Who can relate to 'thee' and 'thou?' People feel that poetry is an abstract language that has very little relevancy to the modern world.

So, what is out there, and why don't people bother with it? The answer is that, for a very long time, poetry has been seen as a literary playground directed toward other players. Publishers recognize that poetry doesn't sell very well, and so, they are apprehensive about publishing a great many books of poetry. The problem, though, is that while there may or may not be a market for poetry, no one really knows for sure. In short, no one is making an effort to shove it into mainstream media.

Perhaps if people knew the kinds of poems being talked about in the literary circle by poets such as Ted Kooser, Louise Gluck, or many of the other poets (yes, there are poets who are still living, thank you), then maybe the people would be a little more apt to purchase a book or two of poetry.

What Can You Do to Help Popularize Poetry?

  • You can offer to subscribe to contemporary poetry journals for a local high school. Remember, one of the reasons people don't drool over poetry is that they haven't been exposed to what's available.
  • You can start an open mic poetry reading at your local bookstore or library.
  • Volunteer at a local school to help students write and publish their own literary journal.
  • Donate poetry books by contemporary poets to your library or school.
  • BUY SOME POETRY!! If you love to write poetry, one of the best ways to develop your skills (and even find markets for your poetry), is to buy and read poetry by other conemporary poets. When you buy a book of poetry, you are contributing to the market. The more people go out and buy books of poetry, the more popular the market will become.
  • Start a local writer's group, and make a point to discuss some of the works by conemporary poets.
  • Start a literary journal, and emphasize works by poets that would appeal to a general audience, rather than only to other poets.
  • Devrie Paradowski is a freelance writer and poet. She is serious about getting poetry into popular culture. She recently published a book of poetry, "A Ray Squeezed Through," in an effort to promote her new literary journal, "LE Quarterly." Her book can be found on Amazon.com, and at http://www.Lulu.com/devrie . Visit the literary journal at http://www.literaryescape.com/journal

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