When discussing poetry trends in the modern era it is important to begin by defining just what the modern era is. For centuries now people have naturally tended to think of their own era as being modern, only for the next era’s set of trends to supplant it.What came to be known as the Modernist poetry movement began more than a century ago in reaction to what its poets perceived to be the formalistic, pretentious mawkishness of Victorian poetry. They sought to write in a more accessible style,more contemporary topics, and frequently experimented with such poetic forms as free verse. This movement developed, spawning many sub-movements, until the Second World War.
Black Mountain and The Beats
After the war a trend called Beat poetry developed in the United States out of a modernist sub-movement called Black Mountain poetry, which aimed to improvise forms that its poets tailored precisely to each poem’s content. Beat poetry itself was the expression of a subculture that rejected the conformist consumerism of mass society and celebrated perception-altering drugs, sexual experimentation, and engaging with various Eastern religions. Its poetry tended to be highly expressive and unrestrained.
Beats to Geeks
After the Beat movement dissolved into the Hippie counterculture, poetic trends tended to become more dispersed, and aside from such short-lived trends as Martian poetry, which sought to describe familiar things from unusual perspectives, trends in poetry for the rest of the twentieth century tended to be parochial, such as those expressing the perspectives of social minorities and those coming from such subcultures as the Emos and Goths. Mario Petrucci coined the term “poeclectics” in 2001 to describe this do-your-own-thing trendlessness.
The digital revolution has had a profound impact on poetry. Desktop publishing has resulted in the proliferation of self-published poetry chapbooks. The internet, furthermore, has stimulated a poetry explosion by providing poets with easy access to blogging and numerous poetry websites. Online multimedia poetry-with-visuals has appeared. Another contemporary trend has been the growth of performance poetry, with integrated shows with musical accompaniment, open-microphone evenings, and competitive poetry slams.
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