Oak Park, Sheffield, S10
Mr Olsen, it is a pleasure to debate with you: and I'm also now taking your advice to join the exalted company of people who write in frequently to our splendid local newspaper!
bOK, here we go. I'm not a fan of the music of rap either. For my money, Johann Sebastian Bach said most of what could be said with music. And you're right too, about the word "laureate:" it does, however, convey the idea of "Bonus Bard" to most people.
Additionally, I agree that you don't have a Poet Laureate, not really, unless he or she has proved him or herself, and can write on matters of some importance. But you have to recall that if you want that sort of poet, you have to offer a salary or at least an honorarium. And, thankfully, I don't think we're paying Mr Mensah anything. Plus, Sheffield is now nationally famous for its cultural scene: so I think a Poet Laureate isn't, on balance, a bad idea. It gives us even more visibility.
As for the lyrics of rap, I agree that many of them are indeed mundane and unaesthetic, and some are highly objectionable. Nevertheless, and importantly, rap musicians are the only professional writers who are at the moment taking rhythm and rhyme seriously. The amateurs among us might still be writing sonnets and villanelles and jolly verses: but professionally we're out of vogue. This might be regrettable: but it is what is happening, and we must make what we can of it.
In conclusion, I recount an anecdote Benjamin Zephaniah told in his Preface to Chambers' Rhyming Dictionary. It's funny. He relates how someone once called him a "walking rhyming dictionary." And he thought "Wow, a rhyming dictionary, what a great idea, I must get on to that!" So, he rang his publishers, telling them about his exciting new venture, only to be told that rhyming dictionaries already existed, and indeed had existed for centuries. I hope this little story shows that different cultures can meet up felicitously.
Wordsworth? Certainly. But my favourite poet is Robert Browning. There's so much more to him than those rats in "The Pied Piper of Hamelin." Just thought you might like to know that!