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What is a poem VI: Show1/Show2

I do not want to claim that the two senses of 'show' that seem to me important are without overlap. Perhaps they represent two ends of a spectrum in which there are middle points of various kinds. I also think that more often than not poems/poets use both kinds of showing in the space of a single … [Read more...]

What is a Poem V: Proof and Poems

So far I've suggested that poetry is a form of language use (language act) which is special, havers on the border between mention and use, and is a means of expanding the possibilities of language. Let me be clear again that I do not want to assimilate every single thing we might want to call a poem … [Read more...]

What is a poem IV: mention and use

It's clear from the comments of the many/several/actually one reader of the story so far that I have not explained myself yet. What I mean by 'make it new' is radical (I am not going to discuss whether Pound also had this more radical sense in mind, though I am fairly clear that Eliot did). … [Read more...]

What is a poem III: a poem zoo

So let's start a little poem zoo Inversnaid: G M Hopkins A poem that rolls and tumbles over itself in one long piece of onomatopoeia: (Mr Smith, you've got onomatopoeia! Is that serious doctor? Yes, I'm afraid it's as bad as it sounds.) Prologue to the Canterbury tales l1-20: Chaucer Stuff … [Read more...]

What is a poem II: preliminaries

I left off at the end of 'What is a poem 1' with the preliminary conclusion that a poem is a particular kind of language act, not a particular kind of language. That idea on its own doesn't get us very far unless we can say what sort of language act it is - what is it doing or not doing? Now is the … [Read more...]

What is a poem 1: why isn’t it prose?

I've come to the conclusion that I will never write my great philosophical tome on the nature of poetry. So instead I'm going to put a few sketch marks down as individual posts. The question which interests me here is the brutally simple one - what is a poem? That is to say what is a poem as opposed … [Read more...]