Poets need to make their work more relatable


The Appalachian Online

Christian George

Poetry has been an influential force in my life that has opened new ways of thinking and has allowed me to express emotions that I once found difficulty conveying.

Personally, I have written many poems and have been published a few times. Going to poetry readings has been an experience that has bettered me and improved my confidence and public speaking skills.

Going to different open mic nights with different audiences, and having spoken with other authors who have different writing styles, it is clear that there are many different types of poets.

However, I have noticed a trend recently within the local poetry scene within communities, pertaining to both written and spoken poetry.

Poetry should flow through one’s body, and then leave through one’s pen. As a poet, I have begun to see less of this happening.

Poetry has become predictable in its content and themes, especially in upcoming poets who are trying to craft their skills. Many poets are creating the same poems without realizing it. They are unintentionally writing based off of other poems they hear and previous poems they have created because the poems may have been successful.

A facet within the modern poet has been the formation of the spoken word. It is beginning to become the main mode of expression in poetry on open mic nights. Spoken word is an art form that focuses on word play and the aesthetics of intonation and inflection of the voice.

It seems that with more poets using this method, the authenticity of the poet and the work lessens. The poetry seems to follow modes of expression to rely on the inflection of the voice, emphasizing the rendition of the poem; to create reaction from the audience rather than focusing on the content. The poet sounds formulaic in their work, and then a trend is set in writing.

Poetry should be the expression of one’s experiences and emotions in a form that people can relate to and take away something from it, which may be different for everyone. The core of one’s poetry comes from the experiences one has, and can be seen within the themes and content of the poem. Recently, much of the poetry written within local poetry, and within the majority of other communities, is concerned with “I” rather than with “we.”

Many poets within the community base their poetry around personal experiences. While the audience may be able to relate to the same experiences, the poetry tends to become to detailed oriented and specific, causing the interest and being able to relate to the poem to decrease.

The poems are very blunt and forward, feeding off of raw emotion. It presents too much for the audience, and tends to leave one overwhelmed. It may connect to a few people, but it creates a further disconnect between the poet and the audience.

Many poets are becoming too concerned with finding their individuality and creating a sense of uniqueness within their poetry. They create an image that everyone comes to expect. It doesn’t push the poet to try new styles or keep pushing to become better. Once that image is overplayed, then the poet has to reform their writing style, or else their poetry will dim in meaning.

In general, the interest in poetry has declined dramatically. A Washington Post analysis of government data shows that the population that has read a poem in a year has dropped to 6.7 percent the past 20 years. The interest in poetry has fall below the general interest in jazz performances.

This is a dreary statistic for the future of poetry. If the trend continues, and a drastic change is not created to increase interest, poetry could possibly die as an art. Something needs to be done within the community to fix this, and it starts with the ways in which we learn and read poetry.

There seems to be a catch-22, though. Since poetry is not esteemed as an art as much as it used to be, poets have to appeal to the audience. By doing this, they tend to follow the same patterns, which causes them to focus on the performance and lose the meaning they are trying to convey, which is seen at local poetry open mics. I find myself being directly affected by this when I sit down to write sometimes.

If poetry and the poet is to become better and evolve, then the modern poet has to detach themselves from the course poetry is taking, and only worry about what is individually being written, while trying to connect with humans. Within both the local and larger scene, the same issues have to be changed and then the interest has to be reattained as well.

That is the beauty of poetry: creating a connection of the human mind and soul through writing, many times never coming into physical contact.

George, a freshman secondary English education major from Indian Trail, is an opinion writer.