Poetry is the most informative of all of the arts because everything comes down to poetry. No matter what it is we are describing, ultimately we use either a metaphor; or we say "that's poetry in motion." You drink a glass of wine and say, "that's poetry in a bottle." Everything is poetry, so I think we come down to emotional information. And that's what poetry conveys.
Poetry is concerned with using with abusing, with losingwith wanting, with denying with avoiding with adoringwith replacing the noun. It is doing that alwaysdoing that, doing that and doing nothing but that.Poetry is doing nothing but using losing refusing andpleasing and betraying and caressing nouns. That iswhat poetry does, that is what poetry has to do nomatter what kind of poetry it is. And there are agreat many kinds of poetry.
I was deeply moved by Richard Blanco's reading of his inaugural poem-a timely and elegant tribute to the great diversity of American experience. And now comes this fine meditation on his experience of coming to poetry, of making the poem and the months surrounding its making-a testament to the strength and significance of poetry in American culture, something not always seen or easily measured. Today Is For All of Us, One Today is a necessary intervention into the ongoing conversation about the role of poetry in public life.
But for me, dinner at a fine restaurant was the ultimate luxury. It was the very height of civilization. For what was civilization but the intellect's ascendancy out of the doldrums of necessity (shelter, sustenance and survival) into the ether of the finely superfluous (poetry, handbags and haute cuisine)? So removed from daily life was the whole experience that when all was rotten to the core, a fine dinner could revive the spirits. If and when I had twenty dollars left to my name, I was going to invest it right here in an elegant hour that couldn't be hocked.
Poetry has an indirect way of hinting at things. Poetry is feminine. Prose is masculine. Prose, the very structure of it, is logical; poetry is basically illogical. Prose has to be clear-cut; poetry has to be vague - that's its beauty, its quality. Prose simply says what it says; poetry says many things. Prose is needed in the day-to-day world, in the marketplace. But whenever something of the heart has to be said, prose is always found inadequate - one has to fall back to poetry.
Poems very seldom consist of poetry and nothing else; and pleasure can be derived also from their other ingredients. I am convinced that most readers, when they think they are admiring poetry, are deceived by inability to analyse their sensations, and that they are really admiring, not the poetry of the passage before them, but something else in it, which they like better than poetry.
When you think intensely and beautifully, something happens. That something is called poetry. If you think that way and speak at the same time, poetry gets in your mouth. If people hear you, it gets in their ears. If you think that way and write at the same time, then poetry gets written. But poetry exists in any case. The question is only: are you going to take part, and if so, how?
There's no difference between lyrics and poetry. Words are words. The only difference is the people who are in academic positions and call themselves poets and have an academic stance. They've got something to lose if they say it's all poetry; if there's not music to it, and you have to wear a certain kind of checkered shirt or something like that. It's all the same. Lyrics are lyrics, poetry is poetry, lyrics are poetry, and poetry is lyrics. They are interchangeable to me.
That is why I think, in defiance of Plato, that there is at once error and vulgarity in saying that poetry is a lie, except in the sense that Cocteau wrote one day: I am a lie who always tells the truth. The only poetry which lies purely and simply is academic, pseudo-classical, conceptually repetitive poetry, and it is not poetry.
What the world wants, what the world is waiting for, is not Modern Poetry or Classical Poetry or Neo-Classical Poetry - but Good Poetry. And the dreadful disreputable doubt, which stirs in my own skeptical mind, is doubt about whether it would really matter much what style a poet chose to write in, in any period, as long as he wrote Good poetry.
Poetry is the essence of everything, and it's through deep contact with reality and living fully that you reach poetry. Very often I see photographers cultivating the strangeness or awkwardness of a scene, thinking it is poetry. No. Poetry is two elements which are suddenly conflict "" a spark between two elements. But it's given very seldom, and you can't look for it. It's like if you look for inspiration. No, it just comes by enriching yourself and living.
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