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I uphold the belief that the duty of poetry is to instruct and delight. Or, perhaps more accurately, to instruct and provoke.

Poetry is not prose that's broken up into artificial lines. Poetry may be narrative, but it's not storytelling; it may be persuasive, but it's not rhetorical argument. A poem, like a spell, should ignite the singular, kabalistic charge of each of its words. It should marry music and meaning into a whole-no matter how atonal or arrhythmic its music might be, or how elusive its meaning.

The duty of poetry is communication, and its essential medium of communication is metaphor.

As a poet, I try to fulfill my duty.

That said, when I start to write a poem, I try first to set aside everything I know and believe about poetry.

I write out of the na´ve, innate, divine, human, stubborn desire to create. The act of writing poetry fills me with sorrow and joy.

This last may be true, at any rate of poets: Plato said that poets should be excluded from the ideal republic because they are such liars.



Karen Shenfeld's works copyright © to the author.


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