Ft. Lauderdale, Fl USA
Well, Ron, I can't agree with you more that Andy is a moron, or something like that , but I can't disagree with you more that poetry has become much less popular. In my own small world, I have around 300 customers and have discussed poetry with them at different times and the overwhelming response to poetry is, "I don't really care for it anymore. I can't understand it". That's from the women. The men just get a distasteful look on their faces. When I look at the books on their bookshelves (which I do), any poetry books are usually "Best Loved Poems of the American People" or maybe some Poe. This is not a thread to debate rhyme versus free verse but these people plus many others I talk to on the golf courses or wherever I go say they can't relate to something they have a hard time understanding. Well-written free verse is wonderful poetry but a lot of it involves deciphering. The average reader, from what I see, doesn't want to decipher. He/she wants to be entertained...and since free verse is the poetry du jour, especially in magazines since it occupies less valuable space, many people just don't bother reading it any more. It's not free verse's fault. It's just the nature of the beast. Rhyming poetry sticks in one's mind just as songs do because of the rhyme. How popular do you think songs would be if they didn't rhyme? I recall that, in Nan's workshop on free verse, Kamla came up with a two-word phrase and went into detail describing exactly what that phrase meant and how she arrived at creating it, step by step, and what it stood for. She raised my level of admiration for free verse by around 1000% with that example. It was brilliant and I would never have seen it if she hadn't described it. The problem is that the average person will not, and does not even want to go through all of the thought processes necessary to bring the value of that phrase to light. They simply want the poem to be entertaining. We can say that we will not bring our writing down to the level of our readers but bring our readers up to ours but that doesn't work. They will simply tune out, which they do. There was a famous poet (I have been wracking my brain to remember his name and I can't) who said poetry must do two things above all. First, it must entertain. Second, it must leave the reader with a little more wisdom than he had before reading.
Poetry has not lost favor with the public? Stop 10 people on the street and ask them who their favorite poet is. Eight of them will say Robert Frost, Emily Dickenson or someone who died 150 years ago and two will say Maya Angelou or Rod McKuen, since their names have been in the news. I'm afraid that, possibly for the first time in his life, Andy was right. When poetry stopped rhyming, many people gave it up, which is sad in itself.