Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Poetry is Not Dead

I disagree with Dana Gioia's premise that Poetry is a dying art in hir Atlantic article, "Can Poetry Matter." Yes Poetry matters. We see it in advertising, in greeting cards, we hear it in song, and on the lips of every human being. Oh it may not be the poetry of the sages, but it is poetry. Poetry is the use of literary terms like metaphors, personification, hyperbole, puns, and beautiful language. We hear the iambic pentameter or the spondaic trimeter or many other metered speech everyday.

So Why Do We Teach Poetry? Why do we love it? Perhaps the poets can tell us. Let's listen to what William Stafford has to say:
"A poem is anything said in such a way or put on the page in such a way as to invite from the hearer or reader a certain kind of attention. That seems to locate at least part of the the poem-ness where it belongs - in the mind of the person doing the perceiving. How else to explain why some are able to find poetry where others do not? I like the implication that there is a latency in poetry which only manifests itself when a certain kind of attention" is turned upon it."
Listen to what other poets have to say.

In addition to prose explanations, poets have long produced poems about poems. Archibald MacLeish's classic "Ars Peotica" is a good example of a poem about a poem.

Ars Poetica
by Archibald MacLeish

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit,

As old medallions to the thumb,

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone

Of casement ledges where the moss has grown--

A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds.

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs,

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves.
Memory by memory the mind--

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs.

A poem should be equal to:
Not true.

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf.

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea--

A poem should not mean
But be.

See what other poets have said about poetry via their poems. Having the scholars discuss the importance of poetry is important for them, because poetry is all around them. Poetry is good for the soul.

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