Your Verse

This past Sunday, Apple released this commercial during the Golden Globes. In it, Robin Williams reprises his Dead Poets Society role as a voice over reciting Walt Whitman.

The more I see this ad, the angrier I get. I hate when companies trivialize poetry to sell a product or an idea. Poetry is more than that. Much more. It is hard work writing a poem, life affirming to read one. To compare any other task to poetry--or the spirit of poetry--is misguided.

Think I'm going overboard? Tell me where in this iPad lovefest is anyone actually writing or reading a poem.


Collin Kelley said…
I kinda like it. I think anything that puts poetry that front and center - not only quoting from the film but Whitman as well - in the public eye, can't be all bad. Plus the visuals are gorgeous. There was a mini-surge in interest again in Whitman when Levis used lines of his in an ad a few years back.
Diane Lockward said…
I also like the commercial. Words, Whitman, poetry, the iPad. What verse will you write? Great thought to leave us with. Made me want to see the movie again. Made me want to read Whitman again.
drew said…
I like the commercial. I saw it as moving the masses closer to poetry, to appreciating the beauty of language. Poets don't "own" poetry, and in a pop culture world that doesn't always "get" poetry, or is afraid of poetry, this commercial invites people in.
Just happy whenever poetry gets any mention in pop culture at all as "relevant," and this particular voice-over says that poetry, if you listen closely, is actually more important than engineering! To engineers, this is blasphemy, but it was music to my ears!
January said…
Guess I'm the contrarian on this one.

Poetry is not poetry in this commercial. It's a marketing tool use to sell iPads. It makes poetry feel generic and secondary. Will anyone beyond poets know or care that it's Whitman? Probably not. Most of my students have not seen Dead Poets Society, so Apple is clearly going for an older demographic-- our demographic, dare I say.

I'm all for meaningful product placement, what I don't want is for poetry to be the new next in marketing copy because "being authentic" is today's buzzword.

Again, did you notice that no one in the commercial is actually reading, writing, or reciting poetry. That tells me that Apple thinks poetry is cool, but not that cool.

If Apple decided to do a series of commercials using poetry, maybe I would feel differently. I just don't see how this one commercial does anything at all for poetry. Maybe that's because the goal is to sell computers.

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