Why Poetical Activity?

And why not, say, journalism? Why write poetry instead of a news article? Why write poetry instead of a novel? 

Here are the best responses I have to the question: Why poetical activity?


1) Because all other genres come with a set of conventions that take away or degrade. Those genres have sly ways of allowing the writer a heightened sense of authority.

2) Poetical activity resists the artifice of narrative and closure and unity.

3) Poetical activity self-interrogates its own format.

4) (My favorite) Poetical activity makes the un-relatable perceptible by skirting codified forms of knowledge.

5) Poetical activity challenges authority.

6) Poetical activity challenges authoritative knowledge.


Explaining the “how” of many of these statements can be an exhausting exercise. If there is a particular number that is of interest, let me know, and I’ll be more than willing to engage further. 



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2 responses to “Why Poetical Activity?

  1. This is excellent! To antagonize however, I would say that (a) poetical activity often adopts conventions also which may not degrade – but definitely skew to certain point(s) of view. (b) other forms can also effectively challenge authority / authoritative knowledge. We can talk more, this is just a gut response.

    • I love your responses, but am also aware that, for the longest time, poetry was the most authoritative literary genre, and the poetic self a source of almost divine authority.

      I see all your responses to “why poetical activity” at work in “Trilogy,” in particular 3-6.
      I am not so sure about narrative unity–it seems to me that H.D. does strive toward a sense of narrative unity.

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