on poetry, articulation, connotation, meaning, and magic

I may be wrong, but from the leaden, academic prose of Professor Ernie Lepore's "Poetry, Medium and Message", I suspect that the good professor is not a poet.

I don't merely mean that he's not a published poet, or not a critically-acclaimed poet, or not a good poet (three very different things, by the way!); I mean that I have the sneaking suspicion that the idea of writing a poem fills him with the same sort of dread that the idea of drawing a picture inspires in me, or that the idea of public speaking inspires in the average American.

It's okay to not be a poet, of course, just as its okay to not be an artist or a musician or a bricklayer or a parent. But if I were to write about painting or masonry or parenting, I would certainly consult an artist or a bricklayer or a parent, and pay heed to what they say.

I'd love to have Lepore come out to Zelda's Inferno, our weekly poetry workshop, for a couple of weeks to learn what poetry is about. Instead, he cites poets only to claim that they cannot possibly mean what they say. He rejects the idea that "form shapes content", and claims that the distinguishing feature of poetry is its attention to "articulations", the linguistic sounds (or marks, but in poetry sound dominates) by which a piece is transmitted, and that "the poet wants to draw the audience's attention to these articulations as much as to the ideas the words so articulated express."

In support of his claim that "[t]he poet does not first intuit her object and then find an appropriate medium in which to articulate it...rather...through a chosen medium that the poet intuits the object in the first place", he cites not a poet, but another academic philosopher. Would it not be more fitting to ask a poet, "Pardon me, good sir or lady, but when you write about a flower or a mountain or a lover, do you intuit the object of your poem first and then become poetic about it later (though perhaps only a moment later), or do you initially apprehend the object via poetry?"

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