So I’ve been asking myself this question since my last post and thought I’d bring it up here. Reading through other posts put up this week, I saw that Henry actually mentioned the same thing I’ve been thinking in his post “Poetry I don’t understand”. A couple weeks ago, I wrote a review on Matthew Dickman’s Wonderland. I remember feeling like my review couldn’t possibly be enough to express how fascinating Dickman’s work is because I could barely understand it. I got a basic idea of what he was saying, but I wasn’t sure how since (to me) nothing was clearly connected. But it was. And I know this because I got something from it. I kind of wish I could have a better understanding of the poems in his book, but I also loved how I was able to thoroughly enjoy it despite how little I “understood.” Now I want to ask you all this:
How do you feel when you can’t fully “understand” a poem? Do you still like it? Does it frustrate you? If it has no meaning to you, is it still an art? Can a poem without “meaning” be considered a poem at all? I think I’m just using different words to ask the same question we’ve been asking all semester:
What is poetry?
Poetry is not just a single thing. Even dictionary.com has multiple definitions (which actually surprised me). Some might see a song or a painting as poetry. Others will say, “No, that’s a song. That’s a painting.” But poetry is also a visual art, and it carries sound. It evokes emotion just like music and artwork. “Poetry” is a word we use to describe something that moves us, something that grabs our attention. It’s not going to be the same for everybody, but it still has the power to connect us.
So I say poetry is magic. It is art. It is music. It is ink on paper. It is the motion of our hands. Maybe the reason we can’t find a single definition for it is because poetry, itself, is the definition of many things we choose it to be.