A gaggle of pasty, be-monocled, pucker-faced, wrinkle storage units in the UK have hit on the publicity stunt of saying that all poetry must rhyme in order to be considered poetry. These kinds of debates are usually delicious and healthy, but this one starts from so a ridiculous point that it can only head towards ludicrous (and eventually plaid). It’s kind of like the harmless poetic version of that church full of psychos in the US who protest Marine funerals. Anyway, they have the ear of the BBC and others so it seems we have to go through this all again..
When Oscar Wilde argued that a ‘poet can survive everything but a misprint’ he had not foreseen the formation of the Queen’s English Society.Members of the group, set up to defend the ‘beauty and precision’ of the English language, have turned their attention to contemporary poetry and poets, arguing that too often strings of words are being labelled as poems despite the fact they have no rhyme or metre.
The campaigners say that there should be a new definition of poetry, outlining the characteristics needed before a piece of work can be called a poem.
Robert Pinsky’s poetry-for-dummies piece in Slate answers these claims (and several retarded sibling claims) with spare grace, a tongue planted in the cheek, and a clutch of examples.