What is Poetry, where does it come from, and how does it enter into us?

I posted many wonderful poems under this blog’s Poetry category. Also saved comments about poetry written by poets throughout the ages. These three made an impression on me years ago that I’ll share with you.

Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882–1927): The Music of Life, Poetry (pg. 327)

The one who reads poetry, the one who enjoys poetry, and the one who writes poetry must know that poetry is something that does not belong to this earth: it belongs to heaven, in whatever form one shows one’s appreciation and love for poetry, one really shows one’s appreciation and love for the spirit of beauty.

Yang Wan–li (1127–1206) Sung dynasty poet: What is Poetry?

Now, what is poetry? If you say it is simply a matter of words, I will say a good poet gets rid of words. If you say it is simply a matter of meaning, I will say a good poet gets rid of meaning. “But,” you ask, “without words and without meaning, where is the poetry?” To this I reply, “Get rid of words and get rid of meaning, and still there is poetry.”

Wei T’ai (5th Century BC) Chinese Song Dynasty poet and scholar

Poetry presents the thing in order to convey the feeling. It should be precise about the thing and reticent about the feeling, for as soon as the mind responds and connects with the thing the feeling shows in the words; this is how poetry enters deeply into us.

Poems on Poetry

Here are links to a few meta-poems I’ve written over the years about the sometimes mysterious creative process of writing poetry and its influence on an audience: Writing; Sometimes Poetry Happens; Poetry—The Art of the Voice; a seven-haiku poem, Coalescing Poetry: Creating a Universe; and Haiku on The Nature of Haiku. This Teapot Poem came about as a result of putting Wei T’ai’s advice into practice.

Also see this post: Writers on Writing–What Writing Means To Writers.

I found an interesting and informative presentation by Dana Gioia: What is Poetry? 10 observations about the art. The final minutes of his talk contain descriptions of how poets describe what poetry is and its effects.

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One Response to “What is Poetry, where does it come from, and how does it enter into us?”

  1. Ken Chawkin Says:

    In the Jim Jarmusch film, Paterson, the writing philosophy of William Carlos Williams reiterates what Wei T’ai wrote around 2600 years ago, when he said, no ideas but in things. It’s similar to no feelings but in things. This historical view of W.C.Williams is discussed in an essay by Ed Wickliffe in the 2nd issue of Triggerfish Critical Review https://triggerfishcriticalreview.com/historical-view-of-wcwilliams-no-ideas-but-in-things-by-ed-wickliffe/.

    Like

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