What is poetry?

Sunset

Poetry is a wandering window to and fro the unknown, a gateway. Poetry is the sacred chiming of silence that breaks down logic while still dreaming in Fibonacci spirals. [1] For example, there is a poetic form called FIB. This form consists of paying attention to the syllables in each line because: “the number of syllables in each line must equal the sum of the syllables in the two previous lines.” per infinitum. See  Lewis Turco, The Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2000), 214-5. Furthermore if you want to study deeply the relationship between poetry and mathematics, I suggest the following book: Marcia Birken and Anne Christine Coon, Discovering Patterns in Mathematics and Poetry (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2008). Poetry is the golden ratio seeping into the milk of semiotics as one falls asleep from feeling the intersubjective heartbeat. [2] The concept of semiotics comes from the philosopher Charles S. Peirce. He defines semiotics as: “a doctrine of signs” that consists of a sign or representamen, an interpretant, and an object. See Charles S. Peirce, Philosophical Writings of Peirce (New York: Dover Publications, 1955), 98. That said, my concept of semiotics comes from the Trinitarian interpretation of the philosopher James Bradley. For him, an interpretant doesn’t need to be conceptualized, that it doesn’t need to exist inside someone’s mind. You just need an exchange of information or unconditional communication. He gives Pierce’s example of a sunflower, the sun, and its seed. Think of a sunflower as a representamen or sign, to it the sun is an object, and the interpretant is the seed or its offspring. It is an iterative communicative process. See James Bradley, “Beyond Hermeneutics: Peirce’s Semiology as a Trinitarian Metaphysics of Communication,” Analecta Hermeneutica 1, no. 1 (2009): 67-8, http://journals.library.mun.ca/ojs/index.php/analecta/article/viewArticle/6. My concept of intersubjectivity comes from the phenomenology of the philosopher Edmund Hussel. The use of intersubjectivity is important because it empathy into our solidification of knowledge. Kevin Hermberg, Husserl’s Phenomenology: Knowledge, Objectivity and Others (London: Continuum, 2006), 95-108. Poetry is a therapy that brings the symbolic to presence and cures our neuroses by bringing transparency to our soul. [3] There is a book called Poetry Therapy from Nicholas Mazza that discusses the ways in which poetry can be healing. He writes that poetry that heals can be traced back to Apollo, god of medicine and poetry, and even Aristotle. See Nicholas Mazza, Poetry Therapy: Theory and Practice (New York: Brunner-Routledge, 2003), 5.  

Poetry is a unveiling of the truth, a transparency.[4] I use the concept of unveiling of truth informed by the later work of the philosopher Martin Heidegger. He defines poetry in his essay The Origin of a Work of Art as: “the saying of the unconcealedness of what is.” See Martin Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), 71.  Poetry is bringing into awe the nakedness of being. Poetry is the refusal of falling into self-concealment through the expansiveness of truth as a flower that can’t prevent the process of its blossoming by becoming its true self in solicitude of the next generation of flowers. Poetry is a fertile, far reaching, ground that ends up becoming a revelation. Poetry reveals through a pattern of experience that begins as aesthetic but ends up taking us into the dwelling of insight. [5] The aesthetic pattern of experience is a concept defined by the philosopher and theologian Bernard Lonergan in his book Insight. It is defined as an act of liberation from the biological imperative and the need for facticity that leads to joy and wonder. Although Lonergan separates the scientific (i.e. validation and proofs) from aesthetics, there can be scientific art. See the last footnote. However, I consider that the term aesthetic pattern of experience is relevant because there is an essential freedom in it as Lonergan puts it: “Prior to the neatly formulated questions of systematizing intelligence, there is a deep-set wonder in which all questions have their source and ground. As an expression of the subject, art would exhibit the reality of the primary object for that wonder.” See Bernard Lonergan, “2.3 The Aesthetic Pattern of Experience,” in Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan, ed. Frederick E. Crowe and Robert M. Doran (Toronto: Published for Lonergan Research Institute of Regis College, Toronto by University of Toronto Press, 1992), 184-5. That said, his concept of the experience of art as an act of liberation and wonder comes from his study of insight through self-appropriation. The concept of self-appropriation is a form of meta-reflection that leads to “a self-discovery and a self-transcendence”. See Thomas Naickamparambil, Through Self-Discovery to Self-Transcendence: A Study of Cognitional Self-Appropriation in B. Lonergan(Roma: Editrice Pontificia Università Gregoriana, 1997), 45.  Poetry is the aesthetic in search of the truth that tries to reach “perfection” as a becoming that never actually fulfills itself. For that reason, poetry is a constant expansion of the experience of being through liberating curiosity and imagination, detailed perception and attention, and empathetic resoluteness and love.

It is through these that we can feel what being is, and when this state of being opens itself up, we can see poetry everywhere. In this state of openness and attentive care that unfolds agape [6] I use the concept of agape or creative love defined by the philosopher and scientist Charles S. Peirce in his essay Evolutionary Love and the essay of the philosopher James Bradley called Philosophy and Trinity. For Peirce, creative love is the result of an agapistic theory of evolution where “growth only comes from love.” See Charles S. Peirce, Philosophical Writings of Peirce (New York: Dover Publications, 1955), 362. For Bradley, “being as communication is love as unconditional giving or donation, unconditional concern (agape)”. See James Bradley, “Philosophy and Trinity,” Symposium Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy 16, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 176, http://www.pdcnet.org/C12573E5003D645A/file/C4BFA7B5294ACB8AC1257A1B00498919/$FILE/symposium_2012_0016_0001_0155_0178.pdf. to our being, we are being loving. Through this love, we reveal truth because truth is the unconcealment of being. So when we reveal truth, we are loving unconditionally and as we love, we are being poetry. [7] In my book, I define being poetry as: “Being Poetry is an infinite process that reveals implicate fullest love within the historical and unhistorical experiences that result in seeing others as Being Poetry through unconditional communication as an attention that has an unfolded agape through dialogue with others. See Lina Ru, Being Poetry (Leanpub, 2013), 117, https://leanpub.com/beingpoetry.”

That said, of course poetry includes linguistics. For example when we create a poem with a specific form, we have to pay attention to the phonetics, syntax, etc. But also poetry goes beyond the linguistic: it can also be interpreted in terms of its semiotics, hermeneutics, aesthetics, philosophy, and even its interdisciplinarity. [8] For example, the concept of science poetry exists. In Writing Poetry through the Eyes of Science, Nancy Gorrell and Erin Colfax teach us ways to include science in our poetry writing and even how to use poetry as a tool to learn science. They see poetry and science interconnected in such a way that “science can inform poetry and … poetry can inform science.” However, you might be a skeptic about the vast possibilities in which poetry and science unite. There is a reason for this skepticism. Our modern science was conceived as a result of the object-subject divide, the Cartesian Dualism. This philosophical tradition can make us reject interdisciplinary within science and poetry, in particular when it is related to the quantitative aspect of science. Nonetheless, there are ways to go around this object-subject divide without “breaking” that quantitative-qualitative bias. Nancy Gorrell and Erin Colfax suggest that science poetry be half quantitative and half qualitative. This way both perspectives are included in a poem. See Nancy Gorrell and Erin Colfax, Writing Poetry through the Eyes of Science a Teacher’s Guide to Scientific Literacy and Poetic Response (London: Equinox Pub., 2011), quote in 12, 19-20. For example, how can I be poetry? How can a photo can be poetry? Is it a concept too broad? To answer these questions we need to go deeper into the word poetry. We must go into its origins and answer: Where does the word poetry come from?

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