Hey there! You saw the question, and I’m sure you might skimming through the article to find either a “yes” or a “no” answer.
Yes,is poetry commercial? Hm, the question, “Is poetry commercial?” is like asking a normal human being the question, “Is a person/human being commercial?” They will obviously be astounded by your question, and will give you a look that says, “Are you stupid?” But look deeply into the question. You will realize that it has an answer broader that you can think. Think of it. Yes, actually a human being is not commercial; you just can’t sell or hire out a human being; that is ridiculous. However, the services of a human being don’t go without a price. To get the best of what a human being has to offer, you have to pop out something. This is what we call making a living… and it is what is done all over the world. All around us, we are paying for things that we ought to get free of charge, just because someone oughta make a living.
A lot of people come to poetry with a sort of religious mentality and say that poetry is not commercial, this and that, and put all sorts of religious arguments around it. In the end, for all we care there is something on about commercial versus underground poetry typa thang. But look guys, the argument boils to what I raised earlier… in actual fact, almost nothing in this world is commercial. I mean, have you ever thought that you are paying for water, which is a freely accessible resource; you pay for a taxi, while it could just be a free hike from a brother to brother; you pay for education, while it is the right of every human being to learn, and we all have to educate our fellow human beings! Think of them, they are endless. The need to survive has made the world a commercial society, and to be quite honest, there is nothing we can do about it.
Back to poetry, yes, poetry is not commercial! That’s a fact. And doing it for commercial reasons lowers the standard of this beautiful art. People will start doing their poetry just to amuse the crowd, and care less about the actual content and conveying a message to the listening crowd. Poetry is meant to be communication between the writer/poet and the listening crowd. It flies from personal matters to political, financial, spiritual matters, and so on. Now in our day in age, it has a huge foot in entertainment. Actually, poet stems up from an emotion they feel inside, which propels them to take a pen and echo the feeling from within, and goes out there like an artist to share his/her heart with the world; and a good artist has a major role of impacting the audience with their artistry. This is purely not a commercial scene, and is the way in which things should happen in as far as the art is concerned.
Here is where the commercial part comes in: what I choose to call the investment principle, that “for whatever you take out, you have to bring something in, to avoid extinction.” We are loosing good artists rapidly on the mainstream because they are just tired of doing things for fun. They get worn out doing what they love, and need to start making a living. And matured poets keep going out, and we keep getting rookies! And let me not be misunderstood there. What I’m driving at is, poets should start making a living out of what they have, and stop focusing on these religious ideas, of poetry not being commercial and whatsoever. Like I said, a human being is not commercial, but has to make a living out of what they have. Likewise with poetry, it is not commercial, but try to get the best out of what you have, otherwise, you are just going to come and go. With us in the Poetry Farm, it’s just like that. We are trying to help our poets get the best out of what they have, and at the moment, we are doing less of free shows, while in the meantime we are working on perfecting our art. The topic is long, and extends beyond what we just discussed. We’ll make a follow-up article on How to make your Poetry Commercial. But bottom-line, do not be deceived, you live from what you have!
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To know more about local (Lesotho poets) and poetry: www.poetryfarm.blogspot.com