Welcome to Enchiridia.
I’m Lucum Conlucare, and I’m a junior year university student studying History and Art History. I decided to record some observations and research here that I’m doing into the world of poetry. As a novice art historian I’ve realized over the course of my recent semesters how much depth there is to the visual arts. After checking out a few textbooks on poetry and asking around, I soon discovered that if anything, what defined a poem was far more complex and subtle than I’d guessed.
The first book I checked out was a textbook/manual authored by Mr. Brian Moon. Moon writes that poetry is a human activity. Much like building a house or playing a sport. Humans have and probably will continue to do poetry for whatever reason for many years to come. When I put this idea forward in a discussion with some friends of mine they were shocked. “Poetry is more than an activity, it is an outpouring of feeling.” Which I do admit I’d thought for the longest time. I think both opinions are true. But those opinions are related to popular paradigm shifts in the world of poetry.
Moon breaks up the history of the poem into four major eras. The first era was that of classical poetry. Here poets like Homer relate tales of heroism and morality through their verses. Poets were seen as imitators of life, for good or for ill. The next major change of perspective came about with advent of Romanticism. Here poets like Wordsworth were held in high esteem. The poet was a messenger of the human spirit. He was supposed to move the emotions of mankind. Immediately following came the New Critical View. Which understood poetry to be a composition, much like visual art. The poet was seen as a craftsman of words. Finally, the most recent documented stage is Postconstructuralist. Unlike the New Critical, this perspective discarded the idea of a poem having a static meaning. Focus was placed on the individual words and less on the overall form of the poem. The poem was impossible to classify for everyone, since it was intended to be subjective. Poets were intellectuals and philosophers.
I think that all of these schools of though have relevant ideas. However, I find that romantic and postconstructuralist are the most prevalent with the individuals I’ve discussed it with. On top of all that, I think I need to check out more books and get some different opinions. I’ve only learned what a poem is by definition. Not very much about how poets are supposed to actually craft poems.
I’ll keep searching. Anything I find I will add here. Thanks for reading!