Wednesday, January 21, 2009

POETRY: on demand, on the page ...


Just a short remark after that event involving poetry yesterday. I believe it proved both the points that I have made earlier in this space.
First, poetry written on demand, occasional poetry, whatever you want to call it, is seldom more than a step or so away from doggerel. Alexander's words were formulaic and uninspiring. Her poem should have been censored and something appropriate read.
Second, here was an instance that poetry should be proclaimed, not read one simple word at a time as if explaining to a kindergarten class. There was no poem off the page either.
So far, only Robert Frost got it anywhere near right, and that by accident. When he was unable to read what he had written for the occasion of Kennedy's inauguration, he scrapped it and recited from memory a poem that suited the spirit of the time. The delivery was better, and the poem he recited is much better than the one he intended to read.
So? If you want poetry at a public event, choose the voice first. Then the poem, and not necessarily the poet.

1 comment:

annaken said...

Good Morning Jefferson,

I tend to agree with you that prhaps the poem chosen could have been better. However, if you read my blog on the event, I have found information on this poet and posted it today. She is certainly a very famous American poet and very well respected in her country.

Professor Alexander may have been "guided" by what other people may have wanted her to say on this occasion.

Who knows?