Poetry is an art that has been part of humanity for thousands of years. It used to be how we told epic stories, or folklore. Whether it was in ancient Greece where poetry was paired with music, or at a poetry slam in 2015 where words are spat out like rap, poetry is still, was and always will be relevant and important.
Unlike novels or short stories, poetry turns language, imagery and wordplay into art that can be consumed and read in moments.
I personally find it very hard to speak in front of people so I don’t have the experience to comment on spoken word poetry. Instead my poetry, I feel, merges with very traditional aspects from romantic poetry and brings it into the modern world, with all its social complexities, existential issues, changing environments and the isolation of it’s people. I think managing to retain some of what poetry has been for the last 2000 years (at least) and yet still make it relevant. And this above all is to make the reader feel something through poetic storytelling. Whether a poet makes a reader feel through engaging with the natural world, questioning the meaning of existence or challenging political issues, poetry engages the reader by building a series of images or ideas like the bricks of a house to create a story.
And just like a house the structure and form of the images and ideas that make it can either make or break a reader’s reaction to a poem. A classic example of this is the Shakespearean/Petrarchan sonnet, where there is a turn/volta in the topic/subject/who/what the poem is addressing on, traditionally the 9th line. This volta determines the whole meaning of the poem and therefore the sonnet form itself has an extremely dominant hold over how a poem can affect the reader/listener. For this reason I wholly believe that carrying on, changing, experimenting with traditional forms, and not just relying on the open, unrestricting form of free verse to tell stories, is important. These forms, the Ode, Sonnet, Lyrical, Ballad, Lament, have lasted so long for a reason. They challenge both reader and poet and force us to think about different, more interesting ways in which to approach a subject or topic.
Often raw, emotional, passionate, meaningful, poetry has the ability to outlast changes in society and our behaviours because there is something inherently human about reading poetry and writing poetry. Often the specific subject matter doesn’t matter because each reader can understand the emotion and intent that the poet put into the poem, in their own way.
Most of all I adore the way poetry has the inexhaustible ability to comment on things that affect everyone, and in such an intimate and detailed way so that anyone (and I mean anyone) once they find the right poet, the right form, the right style, subject matter (I could go on), can love it, because (and this goes against a very stereotyped view on poetry) it is SO accessible, there are almost infinite amounts of poets all writing about different things in different ways. It is an art form, and just like art, can, in the right circumstances, be appreciated and loved by everyone.