Song lyric writers sound off about poetry in The Guardian.
"I see a huge gulf between poetry and song lyrics. Poetry is so often an internal and individual thing. Music is a social art that speaks to the body more than the mind. Even if you choose to listen to music alone, you are still a part of a living thing. Poetry is about separating yourself out from the masses. It's about not being a social animal. I dislike poetry!" (Bill Callahan)
"Somehow, poetry has been turned into a lock-box which we can only write or read after we've gone to graduate school. People seem worried that poetry isn't selling. If you have nothing useful to sell, people aren't gonna buy it. Poetry is supposed to be useful. It's supposed to help us with our lives. Writing is supposed to be generous." (Josh Ritter)
"The disappearance of objective criteria on which to judge poems sort of opens the floodgates for a lot of bad poetry. And when a market becomes flooded with stuff that's poor, then the customers go away. And bad poetry - there can't ever have been so much as there is present today." (John Darnielle)
Interesting stuff, albeit a bit depressing at times. Poetry really does have an image problem, that's clear enough from what they say, especially if people see it as a way of separating oneself from the masses! Or of being "useful" (define "useful"!).
And perhaps it also suggests we need sharp-minded and enthusiastic critics who can engage with poetry and set forward criteria for assessing poems well enough that they herald a new orthodoxy - an orthodoxy that makes people interested in reading poems again.