If poetry is alive we should be undertaking to reach the public through it.
If poetry is dead we should be undertaking.
Poetry, that thing that thrived on the audience's love of it, is dead. A mode of communication that once rivaled the novel now fights for the same public attention afforded lacrosse--markedly less than curling. In the last half century it has contributed not a single phrase, let alone an iconic poem, to the public discourse.
Only two tiny minorities fail to understand this. Stereotypical hipster muggles will roll their eyes in exasperation at being told this for the umpteenth time. Lacking empathy, they cannot imagine how frustrating it is for those who've had to tell them this obvious fact for the umpteenth time.
These people are committed and, depending on how many other plain truths they deny, perhaps they should be.
The question becomes: How can we reconcile our love of poetry with our realization that it is a dead art form?
Poetry has been gone for less than a century. Granted, that lull is unprecedented in any culture, but it is barely an eye-blink compared to the silene stenophylla, a plant considered extinct but resurrected after 31,700 years under the permafrost.
Perhaps, if we can find enough of poetry's DNA, we can recreate a strain that can thrive in today's ecosystem.
The paradox is that, in dealing with the death of poetry, we need to allow the death of poetries. Whatever crackpot strains fail to find fertile ground need to be abandoned, not coddled in artificial environs or needlessly autopsied. The last half century has taught us what doesn't work. Let failure be its own post mortem. Time to concentrate on what succeeds. Whether tomorrow's breakthrough verses are retro or hypermodern is for audiences to decide on a piece-by-piece basis. The only safe bet is that they will involve exemplary writing, performance and production.
Put bluntly, those in denial regarding poetry's passing do the art form no favor. Like Elvis sighters, they trivialize the demise itself. It was a sharp, painful decline that took place decades before most of us were born. We are told that "thirteen is colder in the fall." This was the bleakest of Autumns, made all the more so by not knowing that Winter would be longer than anything seen on "Game of Thrones".
All of that said, the reincarnation of poetry could occur in the next few months or years. Without reservation or hyperbole, it promises to be one of the most glorious events in human history.
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