I’ve been thinking lately about the genre of rap music, and its poetic potential. The idea of rap is, in itself, a brilliant act of literary work when done correctly. This concept makes me wonder what classic poets would think or say about the genre if they were somehow allowed to sample it. Which poets would scoff, and which would appreciate it? Which of them would feel compelled (as I do) to try their hand at it? Finally, which of them would excel in the genre and which would fail miserably?
The one poet that stood out to me in this thought process was Walt Whitman. I’m not sure why, but the best I can figure is that he is one of the proudest men to ever put pen to paper. No matter what he wrote, he was convinced that his words reeked of brilliance and no one could tell him otherwise. Naturally, my opinion would be that Whitman would take one look at rap, roll his eyes, and say, “I could do that”. I am also convinced that he would be terrible at it and never realize that he was much less than a genius in this genre.
I enjoy Walt Whitman’s work immensely, but I don’t believe he was nearly as good as he thought he was. He had some great lines, even stanzas, and a few whole poems that stand to this day as pure beauty…but then again, with all the pages and pages of words he relentlessly scribbled, he was bound to stumble upon something brilliant every once in a while. Everything about Walt Whitman was larger than life, and I doubt he would be able to shorten his thoughts to adequately capture rap.
I’m still trying to figure out whether this train of thought has any significance…