Lionel on poetry

magnetic field Poetry (as opposed to prose) is the elaboration of form (as opposed to reference (or content)). I think of form and reference as opposing magnetic poles, between which any piece of writing may be located. Concrete Poetry (which is close to visual art) and Sound Poetry (which is close to music) cluster around the form pole, whereas a straight forward, lucid, no-nonsense set of instructions for your pod would be nudging the reference pole. Poetry and prose, in this sense, are relative terms which depend upon whether potential interest resides in the formal or the referential patterns of the language. Literary work usually offers both, with an emphasis on one or the other.

Or one might say that poetry is language to be read slowly or listened to again and again: news that stays news as old Ezra maintained.

Common usage is less technical or insightful. The word poetry in day-to-day speech often refers to the collective substance of poems: eg. “The book is a collection of poetry.”

And there are those countless honorific definitions: poetry is freedom, poetry is nakedness, poetry is the vestibule of consciousness, poetry is a scoop of poop. Take your choice. Whatever fits, fits.