Rerun alert: I wrote this post for the literary blog A Motley Vision back in February of 2006–nearly 14 years ago. My thinking about the role logic must play in poetry has not changed by much. In fact, in what people are calling our new “post-truth reality,” which is really just the good ol’ Might Makes Right mentality striving to elbow its way toward staging a comeback, I believe an intimate relationship between informal reasoning and creative endeavor even more critical. As unpopular as it may be by today’s social media standards, accepting accountability for one’s own thinking is healthy for the individual and healthy for society. But it’s especially healthy and invigorating when it comes to creating meaning, be it through word, visual art, or music.
Poets need logic for the same reason poets need some mastery of form. By crafting poetry within the discipline of poetic forms, poets gain proficiency in the full range of their art from arranging the barest stones of syntax to constructing soaring edifices of odes, sonnets, even free verse. Or we may compare the poet’s learning form to a singer’s practicing of musical scales, which the singer does so that among other things s/he may gain the accuracy and stamina enabling her/him to perform within the full range of her/his vocal gifts. The singer lives in musical constructs; the poet lives in linguistic constructs. Learning form is the responsibility of
Mountains and evening: aspen leaves,
Pale as moth wings,
Reclaiming the wood.
The car clove spring.
A flock of yellow petals, heads hung—
I wanted to stop,
But seeing you, said nothing.
You were not much in your face,
Your words, better remembering
Some breathtaken childhood
On this exalted road.
At the peaks, winds ground
Clouds to dust
In parching cold.
We rode through green flush below,
Windows pleasantly rolled down. Continue reading “Evening Drive”
And there’s a whole life in that, in knowing that the sun is there. ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Chancy, is flight, an omen’s
flutter in the unsettled air
from angles where we least
expect a challenge. Invention,
they say, of primordial insects
aspiring to high haven above
raking tooth and claw. Accident,
is flight, of last-chance leaps
to crest battlements of gravity’s
grubbing keep. That such least
creatures found loopholes in
law pillorying them to their
places in a food chain. Then
in their thoraxes, more frangible
than flesh, composed arias
of survival, buzzing themselves
loose. The miracle, is flight,
when four hundred million years
ago, some humble bug got itself
wings, and with wings, ascension.
Hard thing it may be to admit,
the humankind taking credit
for all triumphs over nature,
but, with flight, some strain
of early dragon-just-turned-fly
choreographed the first steps of
the dance away, escape velocity. Continue reading “Evidence of Flight”
As part of my professional training as a tutor and tutor supervisor, I’m taking an online course called the Isakson Literacy Program. The purpose of the program is to teach students how to break into the seemingly locked language vault of any textbook, but especially a complex textbook. I have an assignment to apply a “Launch” and “Met Purpose” practice to a textbook I’m reading. Truth: I don’t really know if the book I’m reading is a textbook. It’s certainly set up like one, and I can imagine its use in an advanced linguistics classroom. The name of the book is The Evolution of Language, by W. Tecumseh Fitch. It is truly a complex book. But it’s growing on me.
The last step of this part of the literacy practice is to take action(s) to confirm to myself that in the course of reading I met my purposes. Writing about a new idea is the best practice I have for confirming I’m approaching understanding of a topic.
Before I “launched” into Section 1 of the book, I laid out my purposes as questions. I wrote down 11 questions I had, based on an earlier practice that required I skim the chapter and “snatch” what I supposed would be predictably important questions, explanations, terms, goals of the book, etc. One of the ways the course suggests I confirm to my satisfaction that I’d met my purposes (or answered my questions) was to participate in a study group. But I’m not in a course, so I have no cohort or study group. I’m on my own journey to explore the nature of language and its effects upon the quality of human cognition and human life and answer the question, Is human language a man-made environment?