Why Write Poetry?

Poetry isn’t prose
Just written down in rows

I think there is a general misconception that you write poems because you “have something to say.” I think, actually, that you write poems because you have something echoing around in the bone-dome of your skull that you cannot say. Poetry allows us to hold many related tangential notions in very close orbit around each other at the same time. The “unsayable” thing at the center of the poem becomes visible to the poet and reader in the same way that dark matter becomes visible to the astrophysicist. You can’t see it, but by measure of its effect on the visible, it can become so precise a silhouette you can almost know it. — Rebecca Lindenberg, from Why Write Poetry?

Most poetry is not that difficult, in the way that most music is not. But it does require a degree of attention, and a willingness to relate to the experience that prose does not necessarily require.

A poem should dip deeper into the unknown than prose is able. Much ‘literary’ prose is designed to manufacture an experience in a reader by simply (or not so simply) describing it. Poetry should have more magic in it.

Or are there thoughts and feelings that language cannot touch?


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Filed under Poems, Quotations

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