This is what writing is: I one language, I another language, and between the two, the line that makes them vibrate; writing? forms a passageway between two shores.
—Hélène Cixous, “Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing”This one seems to be about the weighty issue surrounding the pronunciation of the letter "H". We won't need more than the first strophe to make our point:
She sings the letters
to my daughter, strings them
marigolds into garlands
in the order of the alphabet
E, F, G, she
tugs the haitch, taut and long
far from the breast, a letter
the length of a coast, the width
of a gull’s caw, she now carries
the haitch like I will carry the gurney
the letters swim with the orange petals
around & around
her, child & crone
milkflesh holme, mouthly
smelling of talc and gooseberry
No one, least of all the author, would bother to memorize this word salad, let alone perform it. Were anyone to do so the audience would look at them like pigs in "The Commissar's Report", as if to ask "Why are you inflicting this on us?" One would look like a jackass. Hence the "poetry reading", which doesn't involve the presenter looking listeners in the eye. It is, in every sense, the antipodal opposite of poetry.
Contrast the typical poetry reading to Christopher Plummer's performance of "Brown Penny" by William Butler Yeats.
What is the upshot of this lack of exposure to good performance, let alone good contemporary writing?
Describe a poem that Facebookers would Share.
No one could visualize such a thing. Not only could they not recall a time they Shared or Retweeted any verse themselves, they could not envision what such a piece would look like.
Thus, not only is poetry dead, but none of us can imagine it being alive.
Think about that for a while.