Professor Stefano Colangelo from the University of Bologna made a compelling case and a thorough presentation on the origin of contemporary poetry. First, i would like to applaud him for his charisma and effort to deliver the lecture in English, he personally mentioned that he taught himself how to read and write English in his 30’s. Even though he studies Italian poetry, Colangelo translated every single bit of useful information to support his arguments. His humor and enthusiasm truly filled the night lecture session. He introduced poetry as a study of literature that introduces new metaphors to understand new subjects. The skillful word play in poetry and its passionate delivery would cause you to take interest in any subject matter.
Poetry is also abstract, it is tough to accurately trace the origins of contemporary poetry because for all we know the practice might have been deeply embedded in the earlier centuries. Colangelo made an interesting claim that travel by sea was very connected to writing poems. Travel by sea was the primary mode of travel for traders and explorers, this gives us a skeleton estimate on poetry’s origins. Colangelo also pointed out that drinking wine was also associated with writing poems. Wine drinking can be traced back to the BCE eras, again making it hard to pinpoint a specific origin.
Through the use of a series of case studies on early poets, Colangelo did his best to situate poetry in the early 1900’s and how it became very popular in Italy. One case study that stood out to me was Benedetto Croce (1966-1952) Professor Colangelo presented him as an active defender of the arts with poetry included. “Art is intuition and expression.” I dug deeper into this phenomenal poet of his day to try figure out the origins of his passion for arts and poetry. He became introduced to art by his uncle. He developed an early interest in law and later enrolled at the University of Rome where he eventually dropped out. Croce moved out of Rome and thanks to his inheritance, he did not need to work so instead he traveled and read widely.
Benedetto Croce became interested in history and began to develop fundamental questions such as whether history was an art or a science? He concluded that history was an art and this birthed his passion for arts. He developed uttermost respect towards those who created, interpreted, constructively criticized and viewed art. Croce formed an idea termed ‘artistic intuition.’ Later in his life, in an effort to promote art he started a magazine that became very influential during his time. His famous work Breviario di Estetica (Breviary of Aesthetics) -which Professor Colangelo mentioned, made claims that art was superior to science or metaphysics. He later went on to write a lot of literature that is today being studied and translated into several languages. Using his brief history of his artistic journey when can lay parallels to the origins of contemporary poetry.