01 April 2013

“poetry is dead” declares former local poetry groups

Across the nation, a handful of local poetry groups have disbanded, declaring that poetry, for them, is “dead.”

“It just doesn’t matter anymore,” said Madeline Gamble, the former president of the former Poetry Society of Jacksonburg, Ohio. According to Gamble, poetry is a “dead art” that only matters to “dead people.”

“Shakespeare? Milton? Frost? Sure, poetry matters to them,” explained Gamble. “Or, mattered to them. Because they’re dead. Just like poetry.”

“We thought about just changing our name to the Dead Poets Society of Rendville,” said Carl Hanberg of Rendville, Ohio. “But then I figured … what’s the point?” Hanberg is the former chairperson of the Rendville Poets Society, which disbanded after a final poetry reading. Only ten people attended, Hanberg detailed. Six of those in attendance were members.

Considering the recent attention poetry has received after the presidential inauguration and several national poetry competitions that received a lot of attention, it comes as a surprise to some across the country that so many of these groups are calling it quits. Yet with poetry groups in Monowi, Nebraska; Hillsview, South Dakota; Cora, Wyoming; and Tortilla Flat, Arizona joining in the declaration of the death of poetry, others wonder if this isn’t some kind of “poetic epidemic.”

The answer is no, suggests Hanna Williams, a resident of Jacksonburg, Ohio, and a neighbor of Madeline Gamble.

“Look at the places we’re talking about,” said Williams. “It’s about population, not poetry.”

Williams is mostly likely referring to the fact that the ten towns that have declared a death to poetry are also about as close to ghost towns as you can get without the town actually being empty. Indeed, despite Carl Hanberg’s insistence that “only about twelve people [he knows] care about poetry,” the significance of his statement loses some potency when one learns that there are only twenty-nine people in his town.

“We’re not just talking about numbers,” said Chris Patterson of Cora, Wyoming, who also closed the doors of her poetry group after twelve straight months of nonattendance. “The fact is, when half your town loves poetry but the other half hates it or couldn’t care less about it, it makes the effort seem like it’s just not worth it for you.” Patterson’s math is accurate, at least: of the four citizens of Cora, Wyoming, only two were members of her poetry group. The other member? Patterson’s husband.

Whether poetry is dead or not is still up for debate. But perhaps the bigger question is if anybody cares. According to the total of twenty people within these former poetry groups that have declared their former common interest a dead one, it’s a pretty big deal. For the rest of the country, it sounds more like an April Fool’s gag.


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  1. This sounds like an April Fool joke to turn things around!
    Poetry is not dead!!! Damn maybe I better start tweeting poetry?! We need to share the emotions of poetry or we could put our poems in txt format...that will ensue surprise ;D

    1. I love the idea of texted poems, Ella! And, of course, tweeted poems. You actually got me thinking of doing an "American Sentence a Day" for April on Twitter ... Hmm!! :D

  2. Poets and poetry lovers have gone underground where poetry is hibernating. Call it dead to startle them awake and they'll get out their shovels and start digging. Happy April Fool's Day.

    1. This is a poem in itself! Thank you!

  3. Poetry is not dead, but I will always love the poems of dead poets.
    LOL . . . thanks for the chuckle!

  4. Poetry will be dead when all the blood from all the people dries up and we become star dust. Till then, we'll just moan about our lines being to skimpy and not metaphorical enough.


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