Where have the poets gone?
No, the question was not rhetorical. I truly want to know what has become of these linguists of my generation. The decline of this art form has become increasingly more rapid; soon enough schools will probe the lines of poetry as an archaic style of writing.
And so again, I ask, where have the poets gone? It seems these days the most alluring temptation to bring the metaphorical pen to paper is to announce one’s politics, or to assert an opinion. It seems that everyone wants so badly to add to the cacophony new information, new opinions, new ideas, new scandals, that rarely someone takes the time to stop and examine what already exists and immortalize it in words.
Four years ago was the first time I was afforded the privilege of participating in Poetry in Motion. A program sponsored by the Wilton Library and open to all students from Middlebrook through the high school, Poetry in Motion graced our community with an opportunity unique to our town; it provided students a medium to not only craft, but also perform a masterpiece of their own. Of course, the high school offers classes that allow us to dabble in putting our imagination to words: creative writing club, nonfiction writing, expository writing. But these opportunities pale in comparison to the purely artistic freedom of Poetry in Motion. Every year poem submissions were received, albeit fewer and fewer as the years went by. The submissions reflected the consciousnesses of the writers, treading dangerous lines, working precarious angles, juxtaposing fact and reason with illogical brilliance. And yet, despite the unparalleled nature of the program, too few poets submitted their works and, as of this year, Poetry in Motion has ended.
This unpleasant reality took a while to sink in. The myriad of issues preventing the program from continuing appeared to be insurmountable. There was little to no hope that Poetry in Motion could continue. The most concerning issue, a hurdle more difficult to overcome than even the budget, was the sheer lack of interest. So few poems were submitted this past year that the performance turned out to be one of the shortest in the program’s history. The fatal blow, though, was the program’s loss of Ms. Candels, a teacher who retired from Middlebrook School and moved. Ms. Candels had been a longtime supporter of the program; she frequently directed new, interested writers to Poetry in Motion, and without her, and because of the lack of support from the high school, not enough new poets would find the program. Perhaps what is most distressing is that, rather than encouraging high school students to hone their own poetic abilities in a local program, the school instead requires students to compete in the Poetry Out Loud competition in which every student must memorize and recite a published poet’s work. Poetry Out Loud does not nurture a passion for poetry the way Poetry in Motion once did; it forces students to regurgitate memorized wordplay. Coercing one into the world of poetry does not, for the most part, foster interest and dedication. Only by providing the opportunity to taste something new will we again find those passionate enough to set poetry in motion.
So one final time, I ask, where have the poets gone? What happened to those who wanted to toss aside the grammatical chains and shackles constricting them since fourth grade? Or those who wish to deny the authority of society and proudly declare that two plus two, in fact, equals five. Just as the world is incomplete without those who dare to dream, we as a community need those who want to create.