Where does the poetry happen
So, it’s telling that in this prose that I am writing, my first tendency is to reach for a definition of poetry, for my own, for someone else’s (Hass’ lovely ‘a poem is the score written for the symphony of the singular human voice’ is a favorite) or a historical pedigree (something half-remembered about poem and cheetah having the same Indo-European root, something to do with creature or creation). I started thumbing through my old and loved American Heritage Dictionary’s appendix… but then put it aside for later.
The impulse of prose is to haul the goldfish that lives deep in the well up to the surface with whatever bucket-type implement there is at hand. Poetry (creation of the non-prosaic sort) has an impulse to jump into the well.
So often I get asked about a poem’s meaning, and this is certainly indicative of how poetry is taught, viewed, shared and feared. It is a meaning-making game in the eyes of man, a demi-god’s pantomime.