23 March 2012


I think it is necessary to define terms. Oddly enough, I like the wikipedia definition of poetry. For my purposes it is the best description of the act as I experience it:
Poetry (from the Greek "ποίησις," poiesis, a "making" or "creating") is a form of art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its ostensible meaning... Poetry often uses particular forms and conventions to expand the literal meaning of the words, or to evoke emotional or sensual responses. Devices such as assonance, alliteration and rhythm are sometimes used to achieve musical or incantatory effects. Poetry's use of ambiguity, symbolism, irony and other stylistic elements of poetic diction often leaves a poem open to multiple interpretations. Similarly, metaphor and simile create a resonance between otherwise disparate images—a layering of meanings, forming connections previously not perceived."

With few changes this can work for architecture, painting, drawing, and many other arts. Visitors to Wikipedia will see that I was highly selective in my quoting, taking only the elements that further my point. I am going to parse some of the terms in this definition.
1. I like that the original Greek root for poetry is "making" or "creating." Of course linguists and classicists will be quick to point out that this is very different from "fabricating," and was a term reserved for words and ideas. The visual artist is engaged in the act of both making and fabricating, for the object is imbued with meaning.
2. "Language is used for its aesthetic qualities in addition to its ostensible meaning." Thus the sound of words and their relation to other words is as important as its meaning. This is also the case in architecture, where the form and materiality of say, a door, adds to its ostensible meaning or use.

The literary devices listed in this definition have corollaries in the visual arts.

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