Thursday, December 17, 2009

ponderings: are modern poets capable of greatness?

As we here at the Opinionated? Me? blog know, I am fifteen. As a fifteen year old, I often feel obligated to Angst Out in proportions that few are immediatley prepared for. And, obviously, angsting requires actual angst. Not that I don't have angst. I can angst with the best of 'em. But I often find myself wishing to seperate my teenage angst from my Poe angst. Y'know, the real angst. (angst)

So I've been getting into poetry (not Zombie Haiku, either. Real poetry)Frost, Lord Byron, Wilmot, T.S. Eliot, William Butler Yeats, Poe (obvs), Sylivia Plath, Virgina Woolf, even some freaking Shakespeare sonnets. I am becoming quite the literate, if I do say so myself. But when I walk into English class with a little paperback of Emily Dickenson poems, I am greeted with the coos of my supposed literary superior, Mz. (blank), "oh, well, look at you. Do you like poems?" Imagine a women saying this to a particularly dense toddler, and you will understand my frustration.

Anyhoozles, all ranting aside, there is a point to this post, and that point is just as the subject line says: is there any good modern poetry anymore? Is there any ground left to break, any great things still needing to be said? Or is it just a dead beat reserved for the most hidden and psuedo-hip cafe's in Trendy LA?

Not to say there are no talented poets out there. I'm sure there are. But I haven't seen eye nor ear of any of them and, until they release something noteworthy, I will file them in the "imaginary" cabinet, right beside Santa Claus and fat-free doritoes that don't taste like styrophome. Because, seriously you guys, every shithead with a pen and paper thinks they can write poetry, and

Let's compare:

I am bored with love
and it's passionless limbs
that drape over my bed
in a lethargic state of impotence
while wearing the same red heart
my soul picked up hitchhiking
off highway serendipity



After a hundred years
Nobody knows the place,--
Agony, that enacted there,
Motionless as peace.

Weeds triumphant ranged,
Strangers strolled and spelled
At the lone orthography
Of the elder dead.

Winds of summer fields
Recollect the way,--
Instinct picking up the key
Dropped by memory.

--"After a Hundred Years" Emily Dickenson

The difference is ridiculous. One is a whiney, pointless onslaught of eight grade vocab words that say nothing other then love has limbs and hitchhikes (or something). Perhaps I just don't "get" it--but that's the thing. I shouldn't have to get poetry. It should get me. It should speak to the common man in a way no other form of language can. It should convey to me said poets intentions, whatever they were feeling when they wrote it. I shouldn't have to tear my brains out trying to decipher what the hell they were trying to say.

Alas, I live in a generation that don't "get" anything, not even each other. Because that's what I hear, see? "They just don't get it" "I'm so misunderstood!" "I am such a deep soul, dawg!" It's mind numbing, really. Everyone seems to majorly outweigh their own intelligence level, and by extension the intelligence in which they write things down. I have a secret: no matter what posters say, you can judge a book by it's cover. I.e: if you see a kid walking down the street with skinny jeans and an elctro-pop t-shirt, chances are he/she wouldn't know good poetry from a mole on his ass. Not that I do. In fact, I have never voluntarily written a poem in my entire life. But I've read enough to know that my generation is a whiny bunch, and I highly doubt there is an intelligent, original thought to speak of left in the minds of English-speaking citizens of Earth.

To round off this rant, I leave you with some words of wisdom from a good man I like to call Anonymous:

"How bout a nice cup of shut the fuck up?"



April said...

I love poetry. I feel like the poem you cite though, the emo one isn't representative of modern poetry though. There are some decent poets out there, such as Billy Collins also, it's not quite the caliber of Dickinson, but slam poetry can be really cool to watch, especially def poetry jam on HBO, the way people work the words, it's fabulous.

However, for poets a bit more modern than Poe, I think you really should read some of the beats, especially Alan Ginsberg. His poem Howl might really speak to you, it's full of angst, this is how it opens:
"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz"

April said...

And yes, people are so angsty nowadays. I wonder if this not getting things comes from instant knowledge stimuli, such as the internet, where you type something in, and boom, instant answer. Not that I am knocking the internet at all, just it takes a lot of the work out of thinking.

Dannie said...

True. I'm not talking about the Beats, though--there's some brilliant stuff there. I'm talking the last ten years. The idea of "learning" and "bettering one's self" has basically been narrowed down to a Google search, and now everyone thinks they're Jack Kerauc.

April said...

Very true!

Perhaps your generation is just waiting for that one person to become the voice your generation, or at least a group of people. Like, I bet there's always been shitty emo poetry (I am drowning in a pool of depression/see my black shirt/i emote) even in the days of Dickinson, but there wasn't the internet so unless you self-published, chances are not a lot of people saw your shit poetry, unlike today where anyone is a poet with

Glad to see you appreciate Kerouac, it is very refreshing, please do continue to be not a mindless aber-drone. :-D

Dannie said...

Will do, friend. Will do.

Jodie said...

Ok so it's not poetry from your generation, but I have a couple of recs written by someone in the last 10 years, which I found just fantastic:

Facts for Visitors - Srikanth Reddy (I don't quite know how to describe this collection but it's got British and English influences and my favourite poem is 'Centaur' which you can check out here

Teahouse of the Almighty - Patricia Smith (brutal and cool about jazz, problems with her son and life, classy stuff that's interested in language)

Also begining to get into Carol Ann Duffy, which everyone now alternately raves about as poetry teenagers will love or condemns for being too violent. However I really disliked her when I was in school (probably because we had to read a poem about the bond between mother and daughter instead of getting her bitter, critical looks at modern womanhood in 'Feminine Gospels').

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