We Real Cool

The Risks That Poetry Undertakes: "We Real Cool," "next to of course god america," and "Gypsies" College

In the present day, poetry is often viewed as an inaccessible literary form – one that is made by and for those with a certain education and class background. T. S. Eliot commented that ‘it appears […] that poets in our civilisation […] must be difficult’ to be considered important.[1] However, the origins of poetry do not support the notion of the art as an as it began as an obscure form. It began as an oral and aural form, one which everybody could enjoy and take part in. This openness has provided the opportunity for poetry to undertake great risks – addressing social issues and defying normativity. Poets from marginalised communities dare to defy the societal conventions which demand their silence and complacency, simply by being poets and using their voices. People of social privilege risk being rejected also, by choosing to discuss taboos and seek greater understanding of the world we inhabit – and others within it. Thus, poetry can be regarded as a space for social deviance, a form which dares to undertake risks for a greater good. This important function of poetry is evident in and is here explored via ‘We Real Cool’ by Gwendolyn Brooks,[2] ‘next to of course god america i’ by e. e. cummings (lowercase intentional),[3]...

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