a Note About Different Poetry Views from the Past

Hi all!
I was just thinking about all the different views on poetry that I have been learning in Doggett’s Understanding Poetry class. While you might know some of these, I thought it would be nice to have a post dedicated to them.

Plato: Poets are the worst kind of people because they don’t contribute to society in any way. The imitate other people which isn’t productive, in fact, it’s just plain stupid. Poets are LIARS.

Aristotle: Poets are liars but they are the best kind of liars! They find truth through lying!

Sidney: Poetry is the best because it’s enticing; it delights!!! Philosophy is painful; no one wants to read that shit.


I think it’s really interesting to see how different poetry relates or writes against these different views. For example, Minnie Bruce Pratt specifically writes against canon writers. She even makes references to Plato’s essays in her work. She explains how Plato/Aristotle don’t include lesbian women’s work as poetry because it’s not written by white men that are high in society. Their exclusion of her actually drives her poetry.

Have you guys ever written anything against the canon writers? Or agreeing with them? I think it would be an interesting writing exercise.


3 Replies to “a Note About Different Poetry Views from the Past”

  1. You know, I’ve never really studied the differing perspectives regarding poetry like that. But this reminded me of the conversation we had in class the other day about Diego’s poem and both this post and that conversation catapulted me back into English 203 with Lytton and how much I loved looking at literature through different lenses. The post-colonial lens was and still is my favourite. I think that if we managed to read more poems through differing lenses as these, or through the viewpoint of Aristotle or Plato, we can come up with some really interesting stuff in both our critiques of one another’s work, and in our own writing.

    It makes me think of this week’s prompt as well and the language barrier, we as literary students, often need to try and hurtle ourselves over. In Diego’s poem, was his Spanish a way to offer connect or disconnect? Did it have a sense of colonialism strewn throughout as Lytton mentioned in class? It really reopened my eyes to that whole world of different understandings.

    1. Thanks for mentioning me in your comment, Marley. It makes my heart feel really, really, really, really, really, and very warm. I love it when people, especially Lytton, can find different things in my poetry–it makes me proud to write. That being said, I did think of colonialism in the sense of the son being the colony and the father being the ‘colonistic’ country, but not as greatly as Lytton saw it. I just made that word (colonistic) up because I’m to lazy to find a proper word. But I also believe that in any persons poetry, especially of poets that are in a class together, multiple views can be put upon them. And I think that’s super duper cool.

      Arianna, I try so hard to be the poet that tries to write against the canon writers, but the more I try the more I start writing like them. I try so hard to be the rebel, but in the end I usually end of like them.

  2. Arianna,

    First, I love your summaries of the different perspectives on poetry. They are both amusing and informative!

    I think another interesting writing exercise would be to try to write poetry as each of these different thinkers, or from each of these different perspectives. You could try to write a poem as Plato– one that both presents his negative views on poets, while also trying to justify an occasion for him to be writing a poem himself. It would be a challenge, but could be really fruitful!


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