Sunday, August 21, 2011

What is poetry?

Emily Dickinson wrote:

"If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?"

Yes. Yes there is. When poetry works for me the hairs on my arms literally stand on end. This has always been the most reliable test for me.

It may be that I am hairier than Emily Dickinson ever was.


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