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Op-Ed: Is Poetry Dead?

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I was looking at the book section of Flavorwire when I saw an article posted in response to another article entitled, “Is Poetry Dead?”. I read the latter and was astounded. As a poet and a reader of poetry myself, I heartily disagree with the author of the article.

The reason the author of the article says poetry is dead today is because it hasn’t changed anything. By change, did she mean historically change society? Or, did she mean change people’s lives by getting the attention of a large number of people? I think it is both.

Why should poetry have to historically change society or attract the attention of a large number of people in order to change something? With most people being so technology and reality-tv obsessed and, shouldn’t people be happy that poetry still is being read and written by some people?

For instance, me. I have been writing poetry since I was thirteen years old. Discovering that I had the natural talent to write poetry (and as it would turn out, stories) made me happy. Until I discovered my writing talent, I thought I had no talent. If that newfound happiness is not a form of change, I don’t know what to say.

During my first two years of college, I’ve read many poets I never considered reading before: Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Gwendolyn Brooks, to name a few. Walt Whitman became my favorite poet to read for pleasure because his work showed me that no matter who we are or where we come from, we are all connected. For someone like me who has felt out-of-place for a long time, it was an immense comfort and another life-changing moment.

As for poetry that has been inspiring to my own work, Gwendolyn Brooks and her poem “We Real Cool” was the nugget that led me to a gold mine of inspiration from other African-American poets like Langston Hughes and Paul Laurence Dunbar. All three of these poets inspired me to write about youth social issues with raw imagery. When I have enough poems, I will publish them in a collection.

Currently, I want to look for good introspective poetry to serve as inspiration for my own. I don’t know what poet will inspire me next, but when I discover them, it will be awesome.

Simply put,  If poetry can change just one person’s life and make them feel more alive, then how is it dead?



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