The digital age--Instagram poets and such--is certainly contributing to the resurgence of poetry as popular art. But the comeback started earlier. In fact, I'm not sure if poetry was ever as dead as you suggest.

When I was in high school (class of '69), Rod McKuen was selling poetry (a lot of it) on vinyl as well as in books, and beat poets such as Ginsberg were tremendously popular with the coffeehouse crowd. Dylan Thomas packed auditoriums for his readings. Robert Frost was a household name. Maya Angelou did all right for herself, too.

More recently, poetry slam, rap, hip-hop, def jam, and MC battles have brought much respect to poets among urban dwellers.

Also, we should keep in mind that it is mostly in America that poetry is treated as a quaint and quirky (but shockingly popular) hobby for teens and twentysomethings. In most other countries, poets are widely respected, frequently quoted, and tremendously influential, sometimes winning public office.

It still isn't easy for a poet to earn a living at his/her art, but I know people who are doing it. One encouraging development, IMO, is that more people are publishing poetry that can be read for pleasure by folks without degrees in literature.

I agree, though, it's a shame that it's so often badly taught, turning students off who might have loved it if they'd been allowed to find it on their own.

Retired psychologist, wordsmith, teacher, MFA candidate. Buy me coffee:

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