Helium.com :: Poetry is the frontier where language in use comes in contact with future meaning, and in the process, when best executed, brings a wealth of transcendent truths into the present. Poetry is relevant to all uses of language, though there may be trends that suggest popular culture is looking to new forms of poetic activity to replace specific old models: many musical artists now play the role of mythic historian or wandering troubadour, but poetry is not confined to these purposes.
The art of the rhyming couplet, the frenetic ebb and flow of iambic pentameter, sometimes seem in today’s language environment more a distraction than a vehicle for delivering meaning across time. Poetry now resides in subtler places in more intricate and interrelated forms. It seeps into political discourse, into rap, into the dialogue between two characters on a movie screen, often for brief moments, then pushed aside by a mass of prose and fact and circumstance. But this is not new and it is not hazardous to poetry’s survival as a concentrated art-form fashioning new molds and opening new horizons.
It has always been the case that the oracular function of poetry, looking deep within or to the far reaches of the known and knowable, happens at the edges of the prosaic, at the fringe of our collective normalcy, in a place where in direct proportion to the intensity of the vision we confront those basic truths of our existence we often prefer not to engage.
The impact of poetry on the dexterity and relevance of meaning, in all other areas of linguistic or even expressive activity, broadly, is not lessened by the frequency with which we now change topics, shuffle from style to style or distance the moment’s future from the once most-desired vision of it. On the contrary, poetry fits the moment, always, in some manner, precisely because far from having to evolve to suit the moment poetry’s function is to drive meaning deeper into the core of all that is swirling around us.
We must first remember that an art must be judged by its best practitioners, not by the common trend. From this vantage point, we can see that the ancient vanguard of the written word continues to infuse our core realities with meaning more efficiently and cogently than any other related art-form, filling its host environments with the casual essence they might not otherwise have noticed.
- First published at Helium.com, November 2008 (you can rate the article there now)
- Republished 17 November 2008, at CafeSentido.com