Publishing on paper or on the Internet is not the main objective for poetry. It is maybe for fiction and for research but not for poetry. Poetry is a completely different use of language because the “story” is in the sounds, the rhythms, the tempos, the form of every cluster of words the poem is composed of and that form can only best come out if it is orally produced.

Then like jazz, like hip hop, like rap, like most forms of music and musical use of language it has to be produced “on stage” and there is a public for that if you try to get it where the audience is. There is no possible existence for a song, a piece of music, a poem or a piece of poetry set to music or not if it is not performed.

Poetry more than any other form of literature is to be performed to be really born.

The Indo-Europeans had a man who was that kind of language engineer. He was called Rsi and he was the memory of the community, the linguistic imagination of the community and the sacred use of language in the community for all kinds of rituals.

Same thing in Africa with griots. Same thing with Native Americans and the people who retain millenniums of history in their memory and pass it over to younger people all the time.

Before printing was invented poetry was only oral and existed only when it was performed to an audience, the way Chaucer was, the way Even Shakespeare still was: troubadour, trouvère, minstrel, and all other forms of performing artists who were the poets of their time because that’s the only way poetry can live: printing is at best for “survival” in archives.

That’s the future for poetry, not paper publication and certainly not in the hands of a publisher who is squeezing every single shilling he can out of the poetry, not even the poet because he does not care for the poet.

Stromae is one of the greatest living poet right now but he is performing his poetry.

You sure are right when saying paper publishing by a commercial publisher has no or little future. But on the stage, in fairgrounds, in festivals poetry has a tremendous potential.

Written by

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, PhD in Germanic Linguistics (University Lille III) and ESP Teaching (University Bordeaux II) has been teaching all types of ESP

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