At the very beginning of his speech entitled “Voice and Verse: At the Origins of Contemporary Poetry,” Stefano Colangelo stated “the origins of poetry is scary because poetry rejects all boundaries.” However, Colangelo also added “all boundaries built by academic approaches.” He elaborated on creating metaphors using poetry, however, one question constantly nagged at me. How can we look at poetry as either an academic subject, or artistic expression? As an academic student and art enthusiast, I balk at this distinction, as it is both non-encompassing and limiting in understanding poetry or specifically, voice.
Colangelo does not directly make the distinction of academia and art, but rather focuses on the power of individual voice in poetry. With very little prior poetry background or experience apart from a single class in high school, I’m amazed by the universality of the soft approach which Colangelo mentioned. Although not the first time, this was one of the most significant realizations for me, in learning the origins and progression about a topic in which I had previously never considered relevant to this seminar. The “Origins” seminar has consistently and effectively done this, able to increasingly bring a new perspective on a subject which I previously had not explored. Of course this is the intention of the seminar, the lecturers, and professor, but perhaps this is a transition from order to chaos in order to transform our previously unknowing lack of perspective, to a more chaotic, but informed perspective. This sort of transition exists heavily in college, particularly in classes at a more senior level. While 100 and 200 level courses primarily throw information at you for memorization purposes, the more advanced courses present material that truly leads to chaotic thinking, as you are (more often than not) overwhelmed by the scale and and conceptual magnitude of many ideas and theories. While daunting, this response to chaos feels extremely important as we grapple with understanding foreignness, another topic of Colangelo’s. Origins stem from foreign ideas coming together and evolving to something new, in the same way that we internalize and study new topics and ideas as students. Ultimately, this lecture made me take a step back and appreciate the chaotic nature of learning, recognizing that without it, we can truly never escape any of the boundaries set upon on us by academia.