Reaction to Szirtes reading

I think – or I like to think, that I am a visual and highly conceptual person. In this sense, form matters in my writing because it provides a way to block up and organize my ideas, whether it’s a progression of emotions or a story. Personally, I have found traditional forms such as haikus or meters a bit stifling, possibly because I do not have much practice with them but I can appreciate the form and structure they bring to poems as literary devices. As Szirtes says, “verse is not decoration, it is structural”. In his piece “Formal Wear: Notes on Rhyme, Meter, Stanza & Pattern”, he says several things that caught my attention.

The first of these was that ‘language is a very thin integument or skin stretched over a mass of inchoate impressions, desires and anxieties’ which connected with something else states in the piece, ‘poetry is the triumph of meaning and structure of chaos and meaningless’. In a world where there are a myriad of coincidences but also such a vastness that at times, nothing seems to make sense, the idea that poetry can bring order to the chaos of it all, seemed like a novel idea. Szirtes connects all sonnets and by extension all poetry on a higher plane by saying that ‘all sonnets share communion with other sonnets littering the landscape’, extending his idea of all art sharing a single space. I think it’s a widely held belief that art is in a separate world of its own from the rest of the world and what Szirtes says connects everything, which I found very interesting.


One Reply to “Reaction to Szirtes reading”

  1. Hi DongWon, I’m looking forward to meeting you in class in a few hours! I also connected with the part about language and poetic form giving meaning to meaninglessness. The thought of poetic form as “an act of courage and grace, the wheeling of the skater on the ice” (another way Szirtes phrases the idea to which you connected, the triumph of meaning over meaninglessness) felt, to me, like a way to connect poetic form to the reason we might create art in the first place: to find (or create) meaning out of a world that might seem, at first glance, meaningless.

    This part of the essay that you highlighted, to me, does the necessary job of connecting poetic form to the purpose of art as a whole, and connecting that to the condition of being human. In that way, I think this essay points out the power of poetic form–that it isn’t an unnatural restriction on imagination, but it’s a profoundly human impulse.

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