Although poetry is popular, it’s very niche. This is a relatively new phenomenon, Michael Lind says in his essay The Re-Enchantment of Poetry in The Smart Set. Poetry has always been a favorite, the precursor of song, poetry has a rhythm that can carry us through good times and bad.
But now no newspaper will carry a poem. No popular channel will host a poetry grand slam during prime time. If you mention that you are a poet, you have to be good enough an actor to pull it off. It’s so mysterious that it seems to have disappeared from the popular space altogether.
So the question is: Why has poetry lost its appeal?
There are several reasons for this.
Poetry is all about the spoken word performance; it’s no Rossetta stone that needs deciphering. The New Critics may have done too good a job at understanding a poem; teachers have taken this into their lesson plans and deconstructed poems to the extent that these are no longer poems but syntactical structures and metrical inconsistencies. The truth is that poetry is beautiful only because you can not clearly understand it, the way life eludes us.
Another reason could be silent reading. The words that echo in your mind spoil the experience; poetry has to be read aloud. Because it is no longer read aloud except at readings, poetry has become a more visual form; rhyme and rhythm have been discarded in favor of the prosaic, and so reading these poems that are based on visual cues will lead us nowhere close to the metrical enjoyment that once upon a time verse provided.
It’s never too late though. All the poet has to do is sing again.
“If a post-print oral and aural culture of the kind predicted by Marshall McLuhan eventually does arise, then perhaps a kind of popular and accessible verse like that of Homeric bards or Norse skalds or modern rap and popular songs will evolve.”