What is Poetry?

November 30, 2010
Going back to our discussion a while back about what poetry entails and whether it can be defined, I looked up a few definitions and explanations of poetry thinking it might spark some more conversation:
Wikipedia – Poetry (from the Latin poeta, a poet) is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning. Poetry may be written independently, as discrete poems, or may occur in conjunction with other arts, as in poetic drama, hymns, lyrics, or prose poetry
“used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities…in lieu of its apparent meaning????” Doesn’t that make poetry sound like just a bunch of pretty words?

Dictionary.com – the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts.

Does this make poetry sound like its just for “pleasure?” What about poetry with purpose? What about poetry of the everyday?

About.com – Poetry is an imaginative awareness of experience expressed through meaning, sound, and rhythmic language choices so as to evoke an emotional response. Poetry has been known to employ meter and rhyme, but this is by no means necessary. Poetry is an ancient form that has gone through numerous and drastic reinvention over time. The very nature of poetry as an authentic and individual mode of expression makes it nearly impossible to define.
“Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotion know what it means to want to escape from these.” – Emily Dickinson
“Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” – William Wordsworth
“The only thing that can save the world is the reclaiming of the awareness of the world. That’s what poetry does.” – Allen Ginsberg
Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words. – Edgar Allen Poe
“Poetry is any use of language that somehow exceeds sense with strangeness and style.” – Todd Swift
“Poetry is a small car full of border collies.” – Jay Ruzesky
(I’m sorry, the blog won’t retain my spacing so it looks a bit squished together : ( )

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