Poetry is in a coma
Poetry is in trouble because it doesn’t have a strong audience. Most people that read poetry are other poets supporting their fellow poet colleagues. Regular people are un-aware of new poets in the compared to how they know who’s new I rap music, pop and movies. In this article I am referring to poetry in its most raw form; while some elements of Hip-hop characterize poetry, hip-hop remains a music genre and music is another art-form.
The poets being the only audience to other poets are like pastors preaching to a congregation of other pastors. One may argue that they build each other up, but it diminishes the motive. The poetry has to reach the general civilian. It must reach the truck driver, the oppressed girl and the father who cannot write poetry, but must derive inspiration from it. There is no logic in a Pastor giving a sermon to other pastors and telling them to repent, the people in the world need that sermon much more.
In my opinion poetry is in this state, not because writers are not writing it but because the major media companies are not giving it a fair space. The frequency at which a certain art, culture or discipline gets coverage in the media is related to the hype it receives. When I was a boy I grew up liking soccer alone but when cricket started getting more coverage on national television, my interest and knowledge of the sport grew. Where I’m from, we used to play soccer in empty spaces but we began putting up sticks to create stumps and using tennis balls, and planks as bats to play cricket. It is clear that Hip-hop in Zimbabwe was once suppressed but as soon as hip-hop started getting more air-play, most teenagers I know are aspiring to be rappers and award show was even birthed.
Now poetry is not given enough space on television on radio. They may interview a poet or review his works once in a while, he may feature in the arts segment on news, but there are few spaces dedictated to poetry in mainstream media. Is it because the media is afraid to try new ideas? The media seems to favour old methods 9tried and tested, that give them advertising revenue), what they do not realize is; by making poetry a brand, with the power it has, they will reap the fruits. Let me demonstrate what I mean when I say poetry doesn’t have it’s own spot.
Sport- ESPN, Super sport… Music- (MTV, Trace, Channel O) Cartoons- (Animax, Cartoon Network, Disney channels), News- (France24, CNN), Poetry- a small showcase on world AIDS day or something; and we expect it to have as much impact as music, sport and movies. There are even channels andshows for animals and insects, but there’s no space for the rawest form of expression.
Independent channels , Book Cafés, theatres have tried to keep the art alive., but in the information age, the populous does not regularly look for entertainment on those platforms as much as tv, radio and mainstream press. If we want to poetry to be passed on to future generations as something that’s viable and something one can make a living from one day, we must air our expression where there is a mass audience.-