I had an interesting chat with my poetry professor a few weeks back. We were discussing about, well, poetry. In particular, popular poetry vs not so popular poetry. It went something like this –
Me: What are your thoughts on poems that rhyme? And popular poems that sell well?
Prof: Well, I think they are- we should never underestimate poems that rhyme, they might sound easy to write, but poems which rhyme effortlessly and conveys the message effectively are rare. Famous poets of their time who do this so well are those like Frost, Poe…
Me: Yeah. Many people still think that all poems need to rhyme though, from what I observe. Is that why poems that rhyme and that people can easily understand are more relatable to the masses, and.. yknow, sell well? People love it, so they buy it. Is that why the poems like, those we study in class, are not as widely read by everyone? The ones that don’t quite receive as much attention as they deserve?
Prof: It’s true. It’s not easy to target the masses where your poems resonate with potentially everyone. You’ve got to find a formula for that.
Me: Hmm nowadays there are so many rising poets growing a large fanbase thanks to the internets. Lang Leav is a good example. To me it seems like she has started a new brand of poetry; minimalistic, simple, and overtly romantic. I like some of her stuff. Though I can’t help but think that the masses don’t really care for (or even heard of) any poetry from great poets out there. Is it because, people don’t want to have to think that much, or “unpack” a poem? People want it open and presented to them, they want it right there and then. They don’t want to have to sit and think, ‘what does this poem mean?’ or ‘what on earth is this poet trying to say?’ People just prefer to consume things that are easy to consume, like fast food? I hope that makes sense..?
Prof: Yes, I understand what you’re saying. I agree, these poems sell and they have gained a marketable appeal, somewhat. Now’s an era of self-promotion and dissemination of messages through words in the quickest way possible, in micro bites – because that’s inevitably how most of us are consuming knowledge and information these days. And modern, contemporary poets like Lang Leav managed to do this. That’s why she’s so successful. But the part about people wanting to consume things that are deliciously easy to get… think of it this way – sometimes people might want a Hershey’s chocolate bar, other times, people might crave for an organic oatmeal apple bar. You know? It’s really the reader’s choice in the end. It’s just that not many people can nor want to learn how to read poetry like that. Poetry’s an art, essentially. And like all art, not everyone can appreciate its true essence, understand, or connect so easily with.
So if you were to ask me to choose between a diabetes-inducing slab of Hershey’s chocolate, and an organic oatmeal apple bar – which one would I have?
I’ll have both, please. All in moderation.
(Too much chocolate and sugar in your system won’t make a balanced diet. It’s good to try an organic oatmeal apple bar some time #justsaying)