How do you know it’s a poem?

Sitting at a barbeque, at the weekend, a guest turned to me and said “I hear you’re a poet.” A conversation ensued which led to me showing her the Inside the Mind of Davy D blog. After a short while browsing on her phone, she turned to me and whispered, “That’s not poetry, it’s just […]

via What is Poetry? — Inside the Mind of Davy D

Just read this really thought provoking post on the ‘Inside the Mind of Davy D’ blog, which I strongly recommend by the way. The question is, how do you know it’s a poem?

of course there are some obvious clues: it rimes, it has verses, it has rythym, it’s in a book of poetry, but none of these are necessary, their absence does not mean the thing is not a poem.

the thing is, defining stuff can be very tricky. There was once a Psychology conference in the subject of intelligence, which brought together all the leading psychologists in this field. After two days they still couldn’t agree on a definition of Intelligence.

and you get this problem in art, music, writing, poetry…the list goes on. One of the best lectures I ever heard on this was one of Grayson Perry’s 2013 Reith Lectures called “Beating the Bounds” (available on the BBC radio 4 website  Here ) in which he examined the boundary between what is and what is not Art. He talked a lot about the Artist being someone who notices something and then draws someone’s attention to it. So an everyday object such as a bicycle is not in itself art, but if an artist notices something about the bicycle (shape, colour, texture, etc.) and then does something to draw attention to it (photographs it, paints it, or even just displays it in a gallery) then that is art.

writing is the same, whether poetry or prose. Something occurs to the writer, prompted by something seen, or heard or read, or even a thought or a dream, or the taste of a loved one’s earlobe, whatever. The writer responds, and the final result of that response is a piece of writing.

so to answer the question, if a writer goes through this process and produces what they consider to be a poem, then it is a poem, and they are a poet.

i’m now struggling to get thoughts about earlobes out of my head.

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2 thoughts on “How do you know it’s a poem?”

  1. Thank you so much for the reblog Martin. It is much appreciated. I love the take presented by Grayson Perry and have never thought about the question in that way. The fact there are so many different types of poet and poetry makes the world an interesting place. Thank you for highlighting the lecture link ( I will have a listen) and for the interesting blog post.

    Liked by 1 person

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