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Somebody tell Shakespeare: Poetry is coming back!

posted Jan 18, 2019, 11:11 AM by Andrew Tichy
Spud Poetry speaker Thalia Christenson reads a book of poems while preparing for her Poetry speech. 
Photo: Grace Halvorson | The Spud

By: Grace Halvorson

Growing up, reading poetry from the textbooks in elementary school was often one of students’ least favorite things. They were boring, long, a little too wordy, and seemingly irrelevant to life, much less school. But recently, poetry has experienced a resurgence across America. Books such as “milk and honey” by Rupi Kaur, or “the princess saves herself in this one” by Amanda Lovelace are popular on young adults’ shelves. Poetry is an artistic outlet for social change, whether it be discussing feminism, sexual assault, racism, or other social injustices. In fact, according to the National Endowment for the Arts, the reading of poetry rate within young adults has more than doubled over the last six years. At Moorhead High School, the effects of this poetry resurgence are clear. The poetry collection in the library has exploded, and now offers many more options than just the curriculum books. Slam Poetry is another way poetry has been shared recently. A cross between acting in a speech and a poetry reading, slam poetry is passionate, personal, and beautiful. Check out poets such as Rudy Francisco to see some incredible examples. And if you get really good, the World Slam Poetry Championships are an annual event!

Poetry has also influenced the lives of many Moorhead High Students. Jonah Hanson, a junior at Moorhead High, competes in the category of Poetry on the Speech team, and holds poetry very close to his heart. Hanson says “poetry is a hoot and a half. It’s a fun way to express my feelings, it sounds pretty, and it makes my heart happy. It’s my creative outlet.” His three favorite poets are Rudy Francisco, Charles Bukowski, and Langston Hughes. However, when asked to recommend a poem to his fellow high school students, Hanson hesitated. According to Hanson, “Poetry is not all encompassing. Not everyone falls under the same poem. One poem can’t speak to everyone.” Hanson recommends reading any poems by the authors mentioned earlier. When asked how poetry has affected his life, Hanson replies “It made my words so much prettier, and I didn’t really think about the words I was using until I started reading and writing poetry.” Clearly, poetry has impacted Hanson immensely. Come to the Spud Speech Team’s Shut Up And Say Something open house in April to see more poetry performed by your classmates!

In the 1200s, poetry books were sold in apothecary shops, as literature was literally considered medicine. Later on, in the 1800s, asylum patients were encouraged to write poetry, also called bibliotherapy. Today, the “healing” effects of poetry remain. Many students report that poetry was extremely beneficial during times of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and grief. Hanson reports that many of the poems that he uses in Poetry during speech connect to those topics, and he loves being able to share those stories.

Poetry, both the writing and reading of it, has come back. Whether that just be because it’s “trendy”, or because of it’s personal mental healing effects, poetry is clearly influencing the lives of today’s young adults. Poetry is everywhere; in books, movies, inspirational quotes, and countless songs. So pick up a poetry book from our library (or two, even three!), curl up on the couch with a fuzzy blanket and hot herbal tea, and enjoy!