perceptual psychologist defining structural use of poetic discourse

1. I used to talk like this all the time, back in my UCIrvine critical theory experiment

2. Here’s what Barbara Herrnstein Smith says, which is incredibly useful:

As soon as we perceive that a verbal sequence has a sustained rhythm, that it is formally structured according to a continuously operating principle of organization, we know that we are in the presence of poetry and we respond to it accordingly […] expecting certain effects from it and not others, granting certain conventions to it and not others. One of the most significant effects of meter (or, more broadly, of principles of formal structure) in poetry is simply to inform the reader that he [sic] is being confronted by poetry and not by anything else… Meter serves, in other words, as a frame for the poem, separating it from a ‘ground’ of less highly structured speech and sound.

3. So I’ve usually written a very free verse, where what marks it as “poetry” is short lines and more metaphorical language. Do these say “poetry” to readers? Do they say enough?

4. Who are these readers who read enough poetry to know it as different from the ground when they read it?


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