Comment by CleverChoice
I don’t understand the importance of the subculture of poetry: readings/contests, memorizing it, and praising it. Most of it is repetitive: hardship and love.
If you want something philosophical, I feel you should stick to essays. If you want something artistic, I feel you should stick to art and other craft.
I feel poetry fails to combine these two elements diversely, and most of the poems that are praised only revolve around the two topics stated: love and hardship. Yes, there are very nice and interesting poems that don’t fall in between these two spectra, but they are not as well-known or as praised.
I have read some good poems, and I do have a few I like, but I don’t see the big deal about it. For instance, why do Russians rely heavily in poetry and teaching their kids to memorize them. What about poetry is so respected?
Response by skulder7
It seems like your main problem with poetry is the repetition. It’s true, most of poetry is about love and hardship. So are most paintings, so is most of literature, as is most of television, most of cinema, and most of life. They’re two incredibly powerful, incredibly broad topics that are inextricably linked to humanity, so it makes sense that a lot of art would touch on these topics. It’s not fair to single out poetry alone for going back to this (rather deep) well. What other topics do you feel get ignored in most poetry that are not ignored in most of any other medium?
Poetry can do in a few stanzas what it takes many essays pages to do. In many poems, the meaning is something that must be constructed by the reader, while essays are much more explicit about their meaning. When you synthesize your own interpretation of a poem, the message you take away from it ends up being much more personal, and because of this, often stronger. For example, the message of futility that you take away from Shelley’s Ozymandias conveys in 14 lines what it takes some authors hundreds of pages to get across.
Poetry is something that is easy to write and iterate upon. If someone writes a novel, it takes ages to even finish the first draft, and ages beyond that to revise. A poem can be written in an afternoon and improved for the rest of eternity. It is easy to see in even some great novels parts that could have been improved or expanded by revision that there simply wasn’t time for. The limited scope of poetry shrinks the time from draft to draft to the point where every syllable of the final work can be polished to perfection.
Since poetry is often the pinnacle of elegance of written language, it makes sense that it should be studied. It is incredibly helpful for students to see their language at its best. Memorizing poems can give students an appreciation for the flow and rhythm of language, which will help improve all of their writing. Poetry isn’t just useful as an art form for the writer and as a dispensary of meaning for the reader, but also as a learning exercise for the student.