And that’s why poetry of course

Gupta leads a group of 20 female “change agents” in Purabgaon. Each of the 360 villages in Amethi covered by the scheme has a team of 20 agents – local women trained to educate other women.

Gupta sometimes changes the lyrics of romantic folk songs to refer to iron supplements, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and breastfeeding. “They find it easier to remember what I’ve told them if they sing it,” she said.

Things are indeed easier to remember if there’s a structure to what you’re trying to recall. Songs work. So does poetry. Indeed, that’s rather the point of rhyme and rhythm in those long pieces like Homer and Beowulf. To aid the teller of the story in recalling it. The need for the two acting as a prompt to memory.

Making the song part of this education not a new thing at all, but rather the very thing which has preserved ancient, pre-literacy, culture for us.

6 comments on “And that’s why poetry of course

  1. I was a maths enthusiast as a kid. English language/literature was a bore, and I came to poetry rather late in life. Although it has proved an intellectual challenge, rewards outweigh the effort.

  2. Bloke in Germany – “Poetry is all all about Showing how very Intellectual you are”

    Depends on your form of poetry. Rap occupies a sort of half way house between poetry and singing. And it is poetry of a sort. Some times very good poetry although mostly not.

    Good rappers do what traditional poets do – they have chunks of text down pat. Homer always uses these set phrases. So does a lot of rap. But intellectual it ain’t.

    For instance, this ain’t:

    Hol up, hol up, we dem boyz
    Hol up, we dem boyz
    Hol up, we dem boyz
    Hol up, hol up, hol up, we makin’ noise
    Hol up, hol up, we dem boyz
    Hol up, hol up, hol up, pop a bottle
    Hol up, hol up, hol up, if you suck then swallow
    Smell that marijuana, they gon’ follow

    This is a bit better:

    When I pull out up front, you see the Benz on dubs
    When I roll 20 deep, it’s 20 knives in the club
    Niggas heard I fuck with Dre, now they wanna show me love
    When you sell like Eminem, and the hoes they wanna fuck
    But, homie, ain’t nothing change hoes down, G’s up
    I see Xzibit in the Cut, that nigga roll that weed up
    If you watch how I move, you’ll mistake me for a playa or pimp
    Been hit wit’ a few shells, but I don’t walk wit’ a limp

  3. @SMFS

    Both are crap, “better” crap is an oxymoron.

    I’d say Tim is classing their poetry as similar to our mnemonics:
    Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain

  4. Pcar – “Both are crap, “better” crap is an oxymoron.”

    I would defend better crap as a category. Both are pretty bad it is true. But rappers are the last people on the planet to care about meter and rhyme. Which puts them ahead of most poetry produced by the British Arts Council.

    I am not a fan of rap. It would not bother me if the entire industry slid into the ocean and died tomorrow. But they are the only people doing anything like poetry. And it is often the same as Homer in the original – improvised, oral, and, mercifully, ephemeral.

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