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What is Poetry

By Antonio Diavoli
A short excerpt upon poetry from Líopera racchiusa

It exists indeed the house I have imagined in my writing here, though itís not mine. It rises by the old elementary school. On one side the windows open on a crooked road from the town walls to the sea, on the other on a sort of slanting garden terrace bordering a nunnery wall. I can remember a snowy night, several years ago: a figure exited from the church nearby, a dark Madonna after the rosary. She went up the stairs in that house and consecrated it (for me).
Since then Iíve thought of some poet living on the last floor, that with ever wide-open hatches, and of that dark figure I glimpsed at as being his spirit or his lover joining him in certain hours of prayer.
The light on the glasses is dim Ė perhaps that one I see is from a kitchen, or I canít guess what else from down the road. The lamp-shade hanging from the ceiling lets one think of stained papers on a cheap burlap cloth, some ancient, precise handwritten script, though a true and contemporary one, free, with no rhyming lines, that sound in the silent figureís mouth. The house thus knows the body.
Someone may try to go and meet him as well like a while ago, but he does not allow himself to be found (or she does not approach him anymore).
Their love is made of signs, disclosed indications. It brings no jealousy.

By Alan Corkish

I had always liked Coleridge's edict that 'Poetry is the best words in the best order' but that didn't satisfy me fully even though it made me realise that Tolstoy's short-stories were in fact; pure poetry. Then a young Brazilian poet whom I was corresponding with, Louisa Lamounier, suggested that 'poems are words, but poetry is feeling'. I love that actually; the recognition that there is an intrinsic difference between the words-on-paper and the feelings, concentration and emotions needed to structure these words. Then Neruda informed me that 'the only clairvoyants are poets' and again, that simple statement, conjured up the intensity of insight that a true poet possesses, the ability which supersedes most art-forms, the ability to actually see into the future... and this almost psychic insight applies to poets from The Gawain Poet and Beowulf through Shakespeare and Milton to Gerard Manley Hopkins, Bob Dylan and Bukowski...

In the end though, for me, poetry is personal experience made universal. Poetry which then is expressed with precision and love in a manner that is unique and stimulating. Poetry is all that the poet 'knows' condensed into a moment in time which makes any reader become a better person through reading, seeing or hearing the words.

As I grow older I know beyond a shadow of doubt that until you have experienced life in all its richness you can't be a true poet; to put it bluntly you need to 'know' life, otherwise you will not possess that special insight. I guess it's that clairvoyant thing of Neruda's. Most people claim to write poetry but what they actually write is rhyme, or doggerel, or sentimental tripe... I wrote a rather bitter poem about it once after I had waded through hundreds of alleged 'poems' which were sent for consideration in my poetry journal erbacce. A poem which I reproduce below:

being a poet

you don't know enough to be a poet

you can become a sky-diver

or an airline pilot

you can become a good mother

with respectful kids

and you can even get a PhD

and lecture in social-ethics

or neo-classical architecture

but when you're asked to pick up a pen

and sculpture new words

pushing them into awesome order until people

gaze at you as if you're a new species

proclaiming humbly and

with tears in their eyes; 'i wish i'd said that'

...then it will dawn on your self-plagued brain that

as yet

you don't know enough to be a poet

© Copyright Alan Corkish 2007

By Rehan Qayoom.

*Poetry is certainly, and unquestionably the most ancient and the most respectable form of civilized literature. It's art for a poem is an artifact, and artifacts are self exposure. Poetry whets the imagination by causing a strong foment of visual ideas. Ideas denote the final stage of responses to a work of art when emotion has spent itself, and have no emotive implicitness in themselves - Begin with the stimulus that gave the ideas, and the ideas will follow - Just as in sexual intercourse, when one never concentrates upon the orgasm, but on the salacious causative factors. This is known as imagery (reflection). A Vital aspect of poetry*

Poetry can do 101 things, delight, sadden, disturb, amuse, instruct. It may express every possible shade of emotion, and describe every conceivable kind of event but there is only 1 thing that all poetry must do, it must praise all it can for being and for happening. A poem should be both a verbal Earthly paradise, a timeless world of pure play, which gives us delight precisely because of its contrast to our historical existence with all its insoluble problems and inescapable suffering, at the same time we want a poem to be true ... and a poet cannot bring us any truth without introducing into his poetry the problematic, the painful, the disorderly, the ugly.

Poetry must evince delight in disorder, for it's obliged to praise, and a way to do that is to elucidate the delight in the disorder. Disorder being, say the many emotional junctures, and inspirational events which may actually be unrelated but for the emotional fusion which creates originality thereby entering the realm of delight. Delight being the harmony of metrical structure, scansion, syntax, the euphony of a hyphen between the caesura, and all this (relying on line as a formal formatted unit, and on rhythm as an intrinsic technical element consisting of internal/external rhyme, iambs {syllabic conglomerates}, and the metrical stitch) is poignantly significant. Albeit that delight remains arid till it's praised itself for being and for happening It's benevolence if the auditory capacity imparts gratitude it's my articulator thirst whence is it canzone. Hence, in limning delight in disorder, delight follows disorder. As writes Auden, one of the greatest English poets (of what we can consider as the disorder side building up to the metamorphic state of delight) Musical notes as you say have no meaning or significance taken individually but when arranged in a definite scheme of relations, they present to the hearer an emotional sequence. So with words. The 2 functions of words must not be confused, the emotive use, and their use for making logical judgments ... in poetry it is immaterial whether the word series is logical or not, what is important is that the emotional sequence should be unbroken (a wet dream, where the dream-events are often highly illogical, but the emotional sequence is perfect). I Then, to quote the same poet, explicating the delight stage (delightfully) A poem is a witness to man's knowledge of evil as well as good, every poem, therefore, is an attempt to present an analogy to that paradisial state in which freedom and law, system and order are united in harmony. Every good poem is very nearly a Utopia. Again, an analogy, not an imitation. In other words Within a single work the poet may move from 1 mode to another, preserving overall unity through the consistency of the formal pattern. III Thus, a poet's task is just to hew stars from Earth's dust and shine them in the heavens, and it's his/her duty to pay homage to beauty, and to be< terrified of language corruption - To fight, against it by personal example, and to alienate from the collective for this purpose and to reverently maintain language sanctity.
A poet's experience cannot be considered alien to the common experience of humanity at large. The universe (as such) lies within the poet's heart, perhaps, even without his appreciation. True poetry, therefore, is a self exposure of its entire age, and people, and never diminishes in its magnetism 'Poets are undoubtedly the superior class and as individuals are pleasant, tolerant and excellent companions.' IV  The ideal audience a poet visualizes (not addresses) fall into 3 categories
* I. Those the poet/poetess admires (the beautiful), and those they love.* II. The Powerful.
* III. Fellow Poets.* On the contrary The actual audience he gets consists of myopic schoolteachers, pimply young men who eat in cafeterias, and his fellow poets. This means that, in fact he writes for his fellow poets. V Whatever the import of poetic experience, it's at best inspirational. Poetry< is composed through an in built intuitive internal modus operandi and in a transcendental state, therefore poetry is albeit more acute, less direct, more suggestively cryptic than prose I know only one thing that I'm a poet. At times it feels as if verse is such an excruciating coercion of my being passing over which I feel happiness or that mirror of my senses which causes me to pass through a strange relish and intoxication of knowing me myself. Here no action and no precept is corroborated, who can claim recognition of human spirit. It's merely our own individual notion and our own individual apprehension.
* *

*This is all I've learnt of poetry so far.*



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