Today is Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday, and I urge you to partake in some of his magical writing.
I want to use this occasion to address the alarming increase of bad “poetry.” Actually, it’s not poetry at all!
There are many ways to write a poem, or to simply write poetically, but listing events of your life as though you’re buying groceries is not one of them. This is the failure of many rappers, I think. (Eminem is an example of how to do it right! Brilliant! You feel every word!) Jay Z is an example of how to do it wrong. Take the song Holy Grail. He hollers things like, “Caught up in these lights and cameras.” Yeah, we know. Poor baby. This is pure hubris! The only parts of that song that make me feel are the bits from Nirvana and Justin Timberlake. Jay Z is caught up in ego-sickness, as my Aunt Olga used to say.
Even worse is Kanye West.
You must hear this. It is perhaps the most amusing thing ever:
“You ain’t got the answers! You ain’t been getting the education!”
Okay, I digress. But I had to.
What I’m saying (having gotten the education) is that Kanye West and Jay Z are not poets, or poetic. And this is translating to our youth. I was on the subway a couple of weeks ago, and two teenaged boys entered the car. They said they were going to recite poetry, but it was a litany of cliched circumstances about growing up disadvantaged. I have sympathy! But circumstance is no excuse for laziness and/or ignorance. If you want to be a poet, or a writer of any like, you must feel something inside and want to convey it. Imagery, passion…not a vague list of your life’s events! A poem is supposed to stimulate audience imagination, so that each person adds his own meaning to it. This is the essence of art: shared communications with depth. Those boys made me angry, because they had the audacity to call themselves poets without putting in any effort, and probably without reading any real poetry first. Writing is a craft just as any other profession. You must study it to honor it.
Poe made us feel. And he still does. Art stands the test of time. It cuts to the core.
Let us remember Poe, and let us emulate him.
Bye for now.