Thursday, September 26, 2013

What Poetry is...

I'm having a great deal of fun reading's 20 Poets on the Meaning of Poetry.

We love to say what things are and what they aren't. It's fun to cage match about definitions- it's a thriving business in politics and art.

Okay, okay, so I'm just writing this post to mull over my reactions and respond. It's just for funzies so let's none of us get our boxers in a twist.

From Carl Sandburg's "Tentative (First Model): Definitions of Poetry":

2. Poetry is an art practised with the terribly plastic material of human language.
Is it really? I think that's bullshit. I think that crafting poetry from the human language* is, on good days, like kneading bread: painfully difficult to get the recipe right, but the words are so warm and pliable! Something you want to sink your knuckles into.  A smell that makes you yearn and your tummy rumble. If writing poetry was as stiff and difficult as working "terrible plastic material" there would be less of us and even less readers. I think that's a line of false humility.

Never mind, I'm not going to finish responding to all of his definitions. I just remembered why I don't like his poetry and my boxers are in a twist.

*because there is only one language we speak, existentialists! 

Meanwhile... quotes that I did love:

"Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful." -Rita Dove

"Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads." -Marianne Moore

"If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that ispoetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?" -Emily Dickinson