Day 11: The Place of Poetry

Lehman, D. (2014, July 18). Sing to me o muse (but keep it brief). The New York Times. Retrieved from

What is Sacred:
This article/essay by David Lehman is about the changing face of poetry. We no longer buy poetry books. Poetry readings have turned into spoken word contests. The poetry I read online is more likely to be on a tweet or on Instagram. So Lehman's point is that poetry in our society is found in different places. The idea of reading a poem in the traditional sense is as obsolete as a journalist writing on a typewriter. The article even hints at the demise of the humanities, liberal education and canonical literature, all results of the death of poetry. But is poetry dead or are the places where poetry live just different? So what is sacred?
Have the conservators of culture embraced the acceleration of change that may endanger the study of the literary humanities as if — like the clock face, cursive script and the rotary phone — it, too, can be effectively consigned to the ash heap of the analog era?
Obituaries for poetry are perishable. So are many poems that will slide into oblivion without needing a push. But the activity of writing them redeems itself even if it is only a gesture toward what we continue to need from literature and the humanities: an experience of mind — mediated by memorable speech — that feeds and sustains the imagination and helps us make sense of our lives.
Connections to Current/Future Work:

For fluency, editing and the physical act of brain to hand writing, I have my students write on paper as a kinesthetic process of writing rather than as a product of "school." Perhaps poetry also becomes a process of writing. I see myself as a poet rather than an academic writing. My dissertation had found poems before every chapter. Perhaps what I am trying to really do is write research as poetry, as the kind of writing that "feeds and sustains the imagination" and helps me make sense of my research.


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