notes for Poetry in the World panel at Towson State

 "give any one thought        a push       it falls down easily."

     John Cage, Lecture on Nothing:

If we're going to talk about poetry in the world it seems we must

first attempt to say what poetry is, & then, I suppose, what the

world is.  I don't believe poetry is a particular or peculiar genre of

creative writing but rather a mode of thought, an experiential 

thinking, a cognitive event.  Because poetry is the least codified 

mode of linguistic articulation it therefor has the possibility of

being the most individuated -- that means you can tell who wrote

it -- & it does not have to do w/ whether a text has line breaks,

but rather with a specificity arising from the contingency of an

individual's cumulative experience.  This specificity as the effect 

of individual expression is precisely what allows poetry to

challenge codifications & enact an experience which is 

simultaneously creative (a new experience) & critical (questioning

of & reimagining of, personal, & interpersonal realities.)

What I'm highlighting here is the contingency of the cognitive

act -- I'm saying when that happens that's poetry & ignoring other

definitions of poetry -- all of which are historically conditioned, or

rather, all of which give greater weight to historical conditioning --

to ideas of what was previously considered poetry -- than to what

actually happens.  By codification I mean a mode of thought, such

as a stereotype, or any false dichotomy such as thought/action,

mind/ body, sense/nonsense which very literally preorganizes the 

activity of perception.  Poetry as an act of sensing, sensical much

more than sensational -- a sensation in & of "the world" which is

more immediate than other modes of written expression because 

it is precisely where the critical & creative conjoin.

Deleuze & Guattari have made the formulation -- paraphrasing --

art as the creation of new experiences, philosophy as the creation

of new concepts & science as the creation of new functions.

To that I would like to add as a kind of synopsis of what I have said

so far & of all that I am about to say, the Hebrew Proverb: "If you 

insist long enough that you're right, you'll be wrong."