Last Tuesday, professor Stefano Colangelo from the University of Bologna opened his talk on the origins of contemporary poetry with a statement that “poetry reject boundaries.” Throughout his talk, Prof. Colangelo focused on this “boundary-less” by analyzing poetry quotes from a variety of poets and writers that were well-known and crucial to the development of this form of literature.
One major point in Prof. Colangelo’s talk was the timelessness of poetry. Benedetto Croce narrated two core themes of his work by the statement that “art is pure intuition or pure expression.” Prof. Colangelo addressed that poetry, in fact, was a result of the combination of intuition and expression. I think by pushing forward the expression component in this process, every author is trying to stretch an instinctive inspiration into a long-lasting form of record, which prolong the time frame of an idea. Meanwhile, Prof. Colangelo introduced Gaston Bachelard’s philosophy that poetry condensed all thoughts into a moment, which according to him was another way for poetries to be timeless. This timelessness expands the study of poetry so that the time frame no longer limits it. The message that a poet conveyed back in time can be universal even hundreds of years later, as the signification of poetry itself goes beyond the combination and organization of words. However, this seemingly unlimited time frame can also make the study of the origins of poetry harder because one can’t easily define the origin as a specific point. The origins of poetry then become a question of the definition of poetry. Do any literacy with verses count for poetry? Or can the origins of poetry trace back to the first combination of intuition and expression? I also want to question if the contemporary poetry is indeed free of time, why didn’t it emergence earlier? How can we then differentiate the contemporary poetries from the ones before?
Another boundary that Prof. Colangelo discussed was the boundary of language, voice, and signification. As a Chinese student who takes Italian course in an English-speaking country, this statement seems to be very interesting to me. As we often hear those sayings like ‘music is a universal language’ or ‘art is a universal language,’ I wonder whether it is true for poetry as well. Having been learning English since elementary school, I still don’t consider myself capable of analyzing a lot of poetries in English. This confusion happened again during the lecture when Prof. Colangelo showed both the Italian and English version of the quotes in his PowerPoint. I first didn’t quite like his example of a man traveling between countries without any knowledge of the language, because I think there is an essential difference between poetry and daily oral language. That’s why many times I recognize every single word in a sentence in English or Italian, but still don’t quite understanding the sentence, which happens especially in literature readings. But Prof. Colangelo’s then addressed that poetry was a combination of order and chaos and that voice in poetry is a viable means for the acquisition of knowledge, especially in a multilingual chaos. Here, he drew a fundamental distinction between language and voice. I used to think poetry was a production based on language, but the fact was opposite. According to Prof. Colangelo, voice makes up poetry and poetry then creates the language. Therefore, it is the voice that rejects the geographical boundary of poetry and makes it universal to some extent.