Why poets need logic

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.

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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

anyone who accepts the poet’s calling just as learning basic musical technique is the responsibility of any musician aspiring to competence. Continue reading “Why poets need logic”