Home Articles / Poems The future of poetry teaching looks…(debate)

The future of poetry teaching looks…(debate)


The future of poetry teaching looks dismal. It is falling into disrepute by citing rappers as modern day poets.


Given that the highly respected Royal Holloway University of London is one such institution that supports this, the future of poetry education and even poetry itself does not look hopeful.

Sir Andrew Motion, Professor of Creative writing at Royal Holloway, University of London, specified that; “Poetry is a house of many mansions. It does pupils a disservice only to tell them things they already know. Rap has its own challenges and opportunities – but so do many other kinds of poetry, many of which are neglected in schools”.1

Eminem has caused much offence and controversy over the years with his homophobic lyrics. This is just one example of why rap is not to be encouraged at all, let alone awarded a label of (so-called) “poetry”.

Rappers like him must not be promoted as great artists in the classroom. It is unthinkable that rappers who promote gun crime, drugs and degrade women should be given a platform and even promoted in classrooms. These are simply not the values education can possibly support.

1 Edwards, Paul, “Why rap should be taught in schools”, Royal Holloway University of London, 28 January 2010, accessed 1 September 2011


Musicians have for some time been awarded poet status. The artist and their personal lifestyle choices can and must be regarded equally. Bob Dylan was originally described thus; “He sounded like a lung cancer victim singing Woody Gutherie. Now he’s a Rolling Stone singing Emmanuel Kant” (page 36, Uncut Legends [magazine] #1: Dylan, September 2003).

In 1992, he was described as “as good as Keats” (Ibid). If Bob Dylan can graduate from folk to electric to poet status, modern day musicians must also be allowed to follow suite; to gain the recognition they deserve and become similarly promoted.

The poet and their personal lifestyle choices is separable from the poetry they produce. Dylan Thomas, Wales’ national poet who is greatly and proudly upheld was an adulterer and an alcoholic. However, this does not make his impressive poetry any less credible. We must not sanitise all the great artists, but accept that the great art they offer as artists forgives them their wrongdoing as people. If we applied the policy of disregarding the art of every artist who has ever done wrong, we would soon lose many canonised ones and several of those who are held in very high esteem.

Can you state more points for or against poetry teaching/ education in schools? 



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