What role will poetry play in the year 2000?
-and what exactly is poetry anyway!
‘An artistic way of describing things’….sounds nice. ‘A persons effort to express himself through rhyme or not’….interesting. ‘rhyming lines’….not always. ‘Attractive verses’….close. ‘don’t av a clue mate!’…………..
Whilst trying to establish a definition for the word ‘poetry’ as you can see from the answers to my questionnaire I came across interesting, amusing and clever descriptions. My own favourite definition sums up my feeling about poetry, it is something I read on the back of a poetry book recently;
‘poetry is to prose as dancing is to walking.’
Poetry means the something different to almost everyone from the window cleaner who left school at fourteen to the highly educated head of English at Malvern College. Poetry is whatever you want to be, whatever it means to you personally and whatever it means to the poet.
I have interviewed over twenty people and what I have established is that everyone has their own definition of poetry. However there is a basic difference between poetry and prose. It seems to be that poetry can be set out in many different formats, and does not necessarily need to make complete sense (even though it has a meaning) Prose is set out in a ordered way where one sentence is always followed by
another sentence, it follows the same punctuation rules and a continuous, logical pattern.
The reason I think that everyone defines poetry differently is that we are exposed to so many totally different types of poetry.
My favourite form of poetry is song lyrics. Although not one of the most obvious forms of poetry it is becoming increasingly
popular especially with young people who are exposed to it regularly. For example every time you buy a C.D album or tape you can read the lyrics of the songs printed inside. A favourite of mine is a song called ‘Pockets’ by ‘Beautiful South’;
‘Here comes pockets
His trousers hold a thousand deadly sins
The maddest things we ever found in bins
He clutches them and looks at you and grins.’
It may not be Shakespeare, but it is poetry nevertheless. It is interesting that when I ask people if they could recite any poetry to me, most of them said “no”. However when I said that it could be words from a song most people were immediately able to give a recitation of some sort!
Another type of poetry with great impact in today’s society is commercial poetry. This is used in advertising regularly, it seems that big companies have recognised that we remember things better if they rhyme.
‘A mars a day helps work, rest and play”
We are exposed to advertising jingles everywhere on television, in magazines, on radio and on billboards. So it is not surprising that most us are able to recite or remember some kind of slogan or another, having been bombarded with them continuously.
Greetings cards can also contain poetry, especially valentines cards as poetry is often related to romance. You hopefully have received or written in your life a poem like this;
‘Roses are red
Violets are blue
Sugar is sweet
And so are you’
Two of the ladies I interviewed – a laundry lady and a cook both said that their favourite type of poetry the sort you find in operas. (and also plays). It is often old fashioned and sometimes complicated but still relies on rhythm and repetition, which makes it both appealing and attractive even if you can’t understand it.
One of these ladies had studied higher education and the other had not, neither was well off. I had thought that generally it would be wealthy or educated people that enjoyed this sort of entertainment but obviously I was wrong. These two ladies particular liked the type of opera and play that was poetic!
It is interesting that today most people would wrongly think that opera and theatre were only for “educated” and/or well off people. It is ironic that in Shakespeare’s times entertainment of this time appealed particular to poor and totally uneducated people. Perhaps the image of ‘boring’ plays has scared off