Poetry is all but absent from Cultural Studies. Most treatments of the genre tend to focus on canonized poets whose work is wilfully difficult and obscure. Alternative histories should be explored; opening up possibilities to view poetry again as a culturally relevant art form. The demotic and popular strain provides a case in point. From the Romantics onwards modern poetry linked itself with oral or folk traditions like the ballad. Socially the most popular of these forms is the pop lyric. Since the 1950s rock lyrics have been studied in Social Studies; Cultural Studies; Musicology and some English Departments; but rarely within the context of Poetics or Comparative Literature. Rap and canonized singer-songwriters like Dylan and Cohen are the exceptions to the rule. Systematic attention to both lyrics and performance may open up current ideas of what a poem is and how it works.