Pop music killed poetry (or saved it) April 3, 2007Posted by Walt in codger-tation.
How much has poetry suffered in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries? An essay by Bruce Price that I have just read makes the point beautifully.
It starts by asking the reader to do the following exercise: “Quick, name a famous living poet.” No. I couldn’t.
In looking for poets who today write with with vigor and emotion, Mr. Price answers, “Our songwriters may be the exemplars. One of the pleasures of being in a Karaoke bar is to really study the lyrics on the screens, study them as if they are great poetry. Some are. You just know, if they published a book of Recent Poetry That Actually Made Somebody’s Heart Beat Faster, most of it would be by the Beatles and 50 other rock and rollers, Tin Pan Alley wordsmiths, blues and country singers, rappers, and other outcasts.”
Absolutely right! Most poem published as such are awful. Pop song lyrics are the finest examples of poetry available today. The mere fact that the lyrics are intended to be set to music means that there is a effort to write with some rhythm. Rhyme, which at some point became the manifestation of what was considered trite, can now be used creatively in lyrics.
Next time, I’ll provide an example of a song which exemplifies poetry in rhythmic motion.