GCSE students in the UK won’t have to study poetry for their exams next year. The Guardian covers this not-with-the-times decision while BBC begs kids to not give up on poetry… My take is this: poetry is like the CBC: the people who can benefit most from it come to it on their own time. The CBC keeps trying to change its formatting to court “younger” listeners, instead of just waiting for those kids to grow up and start wanting to know what’s going on with the world while listening to soothing voices and classical music from the bargain bin by the endcap of a box store record aisle. Patience. We’ll get them.
…the announcement is out of tune with the times. We are aware of an urgent need to diversify the curriculum: poetry, with its wealth of diverse, rich, yet accessible full texts is the best and quickest way to do that. It is no longer true that teenagers are resistant to poetry. On the contrary, more young people are engaging regularly with poetry than ever before: reading it, creating it, sharing it with each other, often on social media. A survey by the Children’s Literacy Trust in 2018 put it at 48%, especially, not except, among economically deprived children. Poems are spoken on TikTok and shared on Instagram. The Black Lives Matter movement has poets as central figures. Over the pandemic, poetry has been shared more than ever before.