The Language of Poetry

Excellent, excellent stuff:

Part of the challenge and pleasure of reading poetry is that it sets forth to offer the reader something radically new, and in turn, we have to re-train ourselves to read. Writing that tries to de-stable standards of normalcy cannot use the syntax, the language of this very normalcy. It is a language of fracture and fragment, a language that breaks down meaning to regenerate it, to reinvigorate it. A language that tries to collapse boundaries, to free us from constraints, to help us form new relationships with people, objects, places, time, and our own imaginations. 

As Lyn Hejinian writes, it’s a language that “invites participation.” I think it’s immensely important to take what we learn in daily life, whether that means our jobs, childrearing, conversations, or academic studies and experiment with how these histories and ideas can be explored creatively. It trains us to be open and active readers and to develop agency as thinkers and as citizens in this world.

Open Letter to Mark Edmundson / Harper’s, by Julia Cohen

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