Be My Guest: Jessica Freeman

Poetry isn’t a medium I think about very often, because I am more drawn to manuscripts and screenplays, but poetry is fascinating in its own right. I am excited to host Jessica Freeman, who chats about how modern-day poetry remains relevant today.

New Ways to Treat Modern Poetry
by Jessica Freeman
For those who appreciate genuine inspiration as the initial point for creating poetry, the presentation of poetry through books is simply… not enough. Yes, you can publish a collection of poems and allow your readers to respond after processing the poetry through their own filter of emotions. However, the modern era gives you many other ways to express poetry. It would be a shame to limit yourself to print.
Courtesy of Jessica Freeman
Why isn’t modern poetry suitable for paper? What makes it so different?
Unlike traditional poetry, which was characterized by fixed forms and meters, the modern poetry is recognizable for its open form and free verse. Rather than being emotional, it’s predominantly intellectual. It is impersonal and anti-romantic, so the method ‘read until you feel something’ doesn’t really work with these poets. They need a different treatment.

The Challenge: Can Poetry Be Popular Today?

The modern readers want drama. We want action. We need strong characters. Where does poetry fit in?
There seems to be a general belief that poetry is an undervalued genre in literature. With Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize of Literature in 2016 for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” I think it’s safe to say that poetry still stands strong. Let’s compare Bob Dylan to other poets who’ve won the Prize: T. S. Eliot, W. B. Yeats, Rabindranath Tagore, Pablo Neruda, and others. Where’s the biggest difference? Performance. Treatment.
Every poem you write presents a big challenge: how will you treat it? How will you share it with the world?

The Rise of Performance Poetry

Performance poetry has its roots in the 1980s, when Hedwig Gorski became famous through her audio recordings. Today, poets are gathering live audiences that the poets of the past could only dream of. Performance poetry is more than reading. It’s giving appreciation to your own work through the spoken word. With this method, the stage is the page.
Contemporary performance poetry is much different from the structured sonnets we used to memorize at school. This style doesn’t have a formal rhyme scheme, so you’re free to explore experimental rhythms that would create a unique listening experience for the audience. You can encompass a wide range of themes through performance poetry, but it seems like social and political critiques inspire the most powerful reactions. 
Have you watched Sarah Kay perform? This is not simple reading. You see symbolism, emotions, creativity, and power. You hear and see everything you imagine poetry should be like.
Today, poets can be stars. They vividly perform their poetry on stages, in cafes, and in clubs. The audience has an opportunity to listen to poetic words. The way a modern poet performs is not much different from the classic role of the poets from the past. They used to recite perceptions, emotions, and happenings. They were treated like rock stars. Now, we are going back to that treatment.  
Poetry is still popular. It will always be popular. The themes and forms may have changed, but it still has a special place in our culture. Today, you won’t encounter poetry in mainstream magazines. A published poet is lucky to sell 5,000 copies of an edition. It may be fashionable to say that poetry is dead, but there’s evidence that defies that statement. We’re not talking only about Bob Dylan. All performance poets deserve credit for bringing poetry back to life.   
Who is your favorite poet?
How relevant do YOU think poetry is today?
Jessica Freeman

About Jessica Freeman:

Jessica Freeman is a passionate content writer. She also writes for Australian Writings. Jessica focuses her attention on education, literature, and inspiration topics. You can follow her on Facebook and Google+.
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