October 30, 2019
A ristotle, in his Poetics (ca. 330 B.C.), claimed that a poet’s function is not “to relate what has happened, but what may happen…” In his Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1802), William Wordsworth wrote that “all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings…” And in the last line of his poem “Ars Poetica” (1926), Archibald MacLeish ventured, “A poem should not mean / But be.”
None of these famous descriptions, however, are a match for Beyond Words: Experimental Poetry and the Avant-Garde, currently on view at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, which shows just how “experimental” poetry can be and leaves you considering just what makes a poem a poem.