Why the world of poetry needs to change if it is to flourish

Why the world of poetry needs to change if it is to flourish, guest post by John Kaniecki

There are currently thousands of poetry magazines out there. Whether in print or on the internet the numbers are staggering. But where as a whole is poetry heading? Why is it not in the mainstream of culture?
Back in his day William Shakespeare was a success. Not only were his plays lucrative ventures but he was the best selling author of his day. But perhaps most important, what he wrote was immortal. That was that it was of such high quality that no matter what age it is looked upon it will always have artistic excellence.
Today I would liken musical lyrics to Shakespeare. The similarities are striking. The money garnered by musicians are great. The works are timeless. Already the Beatles are fifty years old and their music is still being played as much as albums recently put out. It is my opinion that the finest lyrics will live as long as there is an English language.
What both William Shakespeare and the lyricists of rock and roll have in common is talent. But there they took it one step further. They used their talent to develop an art form that connected with the people. The plays of Shakespeare were thrilling entertainment while presenting provocative ideas on society. Lyricists present something that is so memorable that the words are etched into our memory. To many the words of rock stars become the guides of their lives.
So allow me to turn to poetry. Why isn't poetry successful today? Where are the great poets of our age? I believe a lot of the failings of modern poetry has to do with the emergence of free verse.
I guess back in the day free verse was an exciting innovation. Just the idea that one could get away from the strict structures of meter and rhyme was a thrill. But free verse was never as Robert Frost said, "playing tennis with the net down". Rather it was an experiment in pushing the parameters. Read Walt Whitman very carefully. Whitman's writing is not a free for all, but rather a creature defined by it's own creative restrictions.
Today unfortunately poetry is a collection of associated words. Any rigidity of structure has vanished. But Shakespeare he had a definite pattern. Rock and roll lyrics they have a definite pattern as well. If you doubt this try to write a song lyric or a sonnet. You'll find that you have quite a challenge on your hands. Much more difficult then writing a free verse poem.
It is not that free verse cannot be timeless. Take Robert Hayden's 'Middle Passage' as an example. It is a thrilling and captivating story of an adventure on a slave ship. However Hayden makes up for the abandonment of form by keying in on the other immortal aspect, relevance. For in 'Middle Passage' Hayden he exposes man's inhumanity to man as well the hypocrisy of the 'Christian' faith.
When I read Othello I get a lesson on prejudice in creative entertainment. When I hear John Lennon's 'Imagine' I hear a beautiful argument for communism. But when I read the majority of modern poetry what I get is question marks. That is the poem is so undecipherable that the meaning can only be determined by the writer.
Here is a way to measure whether a poem is successful or not. After reading it were you moved in some way, or did you say 'so what'. This is before analyzing it and breaking it down dissecting it word for word. If I saw a play and it failed to entertain it would be a failure. If I heard a song and I couldn't recall the lyrics it wouldn't work.
The second criteria is the one most overlooked in poetry today. Did the language in some way present itself memorably? That is, was what I heard pleasing to the ear? To do this successfully one needs to know how to properly work rhythm and rhyme, not to mention more intricate techniques.
I firmly believe that if poets would meet this criteria that there would be a resurgence in poetry. That poetry would move out of the academia and into the mainstream once more. What is lacking I believe is talent. However in my opinion a whole generation is being hoodwinked.  I think it is high time that we turn once more to the masters and see how they earned their immortal titles. Not to lose the lessons of free verse but to fuse the old and the new into something yet to be determined; something immortal.
Here's my poetry book, "Poet To The Poor, Poems Of Hope For The Bottom One Percent" that is my vision for poetry's future http://amzn.to/2aqx6GZ

John Kaniecki is a native of Brooklyn , New York . While he has no memory of New York City but he is proud to call himself a native New Yorker. John spent a few years in Illinois but grew up in Pequannock , New Jersey . After graduating high school John went off to Hoboken to attend Steven's Institute of Technology .
Despite being in engineering school, John was clueless to the direction his life should take. After two years John dropped out of Steven's. He became a Christian and hitchhiked across the United States . Several months later he was hospitalized with bipolar.
At this time John began to write poetry. A self published book called "A Day's Weather" shows his mind at this time. After years of struggle John eventually returned to college and graduated from Montclair State University . John went to work stocking shelves at Sears and then worked with an engineering firm. John married Sylvia Kaniecki in 2004.
About this time John returned to writing. His writing has been published in over seventy outlets. These are "Murmurings of a Mad Man" a book of poetry by eLectio Publishing, "Poet to the Poor, Poems of Hope for the Bottom One Percent" by Dreaming Big Productions and "Words of the Future" a collection of science fiction stories published by Witty Bard.
Presently John is a full time caretaker for his wife. Also he volunteers as a missionary for the Church of Christ at Chancellor Avenue ; which is in the inner city of Newark . He stays up light at night and writing in any free time in hopes of becoming a professional writer.
Twitter         @JohnKaniecki
Website        http://johnkaniecki.weebly.com/
Blog             http://johnkaniecki.blogspot.com/
Goodreads   John Kaniecki


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