Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Can Poetry survive Rap?

Alice Quinn, former poetry editor of The New Yorker and current executive director of the Poetry Society of America, said this morning on a National Arts Program on CBC, "I think rap has helped poetry .. by presenting it to young people."

Is she misguided? Is poetry in such "dire straits" that it needs the publicity afforded by semi-educated, forced-rhymers, who rely on cliché and abstraction, as well as absurdly forced rhyme for their success, for its survival?

Or is poetry robust enough still, in the early 21st century, to resist and overcome the exigencies of the personal communication device and the erosion of language skills, cf. Twitter, textspeak, et al?

Can poetry survive the slings and errors of egregious media, or must it beg alms to persist against a sea of rubes on Facebook and Twitter?

Would Shakespeare last ten minutes on Lavalife?

Does anybody but me care?

Personally, I think rap-as-poetry is an abomination. I don't mind if it persists as a separate art form, as a form of protest, social change, entertainment, etc., but I'd rather not think of it as anything but flawed verse.