The death of poetry

Information is taken in and stored in the subconscious as quickly as a breath.

What happened to the days when burgeoning twenty-somethings knew every line of T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”? They are gone and have been replaced by millions of young people memorizing snippets from independent documentaries or underground musicians. The patience and time required to examine a poem is now spent absorbing art from innumerable sources and media.

It never made much sense for English majors to memorize poems when the days of Homer were gone thousands of years before. No longer do things have to be memorized when a few clicks of the button will give you a world’s wealth of information and an insight via ready-mades and assemblage.

We need our words served quickly and to the point, like a fast-food veggie burger. No longer is the concentration on a few words so readily abandoned when the real problem appears to be how to interpret the overwhelming amount of information we are presented with.

Unfortunately, much of the education system is behind in helping students address their needs. High school students are still required to cram-learn epic poems and college students are required to over-consume poetry that was meant to be unlocked through repeated and intense visits.

The death of poetry as it’s been traditionally known has been because of several things: an explosion in the different media of art, the hyper-paced knowledge consumption of the Internet age, the rise of hip-hop culture, et cetera. In all, the death of traditional poetry is like the death of a canary in a mine, a signal for larger changes.

Children are learning more at a younger age. Information is taken in and stored in the subconscious as quickly as a breath. Poetry is argued to have been the tool of unlocking the deeper meaning behind life when people had to make jumps in interpretation. It has been left behind as a tool too consumptive of energy, too slow and too bogged down. In the current age, others things are more visceral more potent and more real.