The Sources of Poetry

So that I could finally erase my whiteboards, I’m using the blog to to summarize what we’ve been talking about for the first four weeks in the 9th Period class. While I’m at it, I’ll maybe add a couple of observations I haven’t had a chance to make in class.


The Dates. They’re approximate in most cases. Close enough for government work.

The Distances. Ditto. Approximate. Close enough.

The Timing. It’s the sequencing and the general pacing of the sequence that matters. The distances matter a little bit less, but they’re interesting too, especially in context of the timing.

The Tools. What’s most interesting (to me) is how all of that relates to the evolution of the tools people used to (A) record and (B) share what I’m calling “The Poetic Impulse” (see below). To wit:

  • Writing. (Manuscripts. Scrolls. Codexes.)
  • The Printing Press. (Think: the proto-internet.)
  • The Novel. (A cheap, efficient, flexible way to tell a long story in prose.)
  • Electronics. (Radio. Film. Television.)
  • The Digital Age. (Cable TV. Internet. Web 2.0.)


So. Yes. The tools have changed over time, and with it stories and poetry have changed, evolved, responded. I hope you’ll notice too that the technological changes are speeding up and so — perhaps — are the changes in the art of writing stories and poems.

What hasn’t changed so much is “The Poetic Impulse” that has inspired people to write stories and/or poems in the first place.

Which is to say: folks like us have continued to funnel the above preoccupations (narrative, lyricism, performance, self-expression, aesthetic beauty, history, etc…) through the prism of language, image, and sound. The set of tools they’re using to do it has simply expanded. By, like, a lot.

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