I know that I’m not the only one to post this funny and brilliant video of William Shatner reciting Sarah Palin’s farewell speech, so please forgive the repetition. As I watched this video this morning, just to see what everyone else was laughing about, I started thinking about it more deeply.
What struck me, other than the absolute absurdity of the speech, was the other story behind this joke. This is what we as a culture think of when we talk about poetry. We don’t think of the modern culture of poetry: slam poets, lyric poets, or any living poets who are producing work. We think of the Beats. That’s pretty curious.
Now, I appreciate the Beat style (a lot), but they haven’t been actively producing work in this style for at least 30 years, if not more. So, what is so indelible about their contribution to poetry? Is it because its a distinct and recognizable American style? Is it because they seem to have been the only recent poetry movement that has gotten mainstream play? Is it easier to imitate and replicate? Is it Maynard G. Krebs?
I’m wondering how new poets can find something so distinctive that decades later, it’s still recognizable, if even only in parody. I think I need to noodle on this one for awhile.