Category: October 31 (page 1 of 3)

Understanding Poetry

On October 31st, we were graced by Stefano Colangelo’s lecture “Voice and Verse: At the Origins of Contemporary Poetry”. In this lecture, Colangelo included many powerful excerpts, highlighting the importance of the language in each line. The major takeaway I took from Colangelo was that, unlike many of our previous lectures, this one doesn’t have an origin.
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Voice and Verse

Voice and verse:

Stefano Colangelo, Universita Di Bologna:

In this week’s lecture series we had Stefano Colangelo of University Di Bologna who gave a lecture on Voice and Verse. Stefano has a book of poetry, is a musician on pop songs and poetry. What a diverse person to have for or lecture series. He aimed at making questions on origins of poetry.

Professor Colangelo said poetry has no origin. He claimed that it is about looking deeply and pushing out the main things in poetry according to Benedetto Croce. I think I completely agree with him in this. This takes me back to my high school, five years ago, when I had to learn poetry for four years in high school but I could not stop the hate of Poetry section in English exam. When I looked at any poem, my mind would almost switch off and I would not do great in poetry. If then it is about looking deeply and pushing out, I could not do that with the hate I had in the subject. I don’t know where the hate of poems came from.

Croce term Art as pure intuition or pure expression, which Gaston Bachelard, a French Poet and philosopher wrote and looked deeply on the concept of intuition. Gaston differs from Croce who assumed that poetry was a general principle while he thinks that poetry needs silence and rejects noise. This was an interesting aspect of poetry to hear, rejecting noise and needing silence. This then means for poetry to be communicated well, it needs some form of silence that the information is pass on well. He termed poetry as a compression of many things into one. We often hear the term “The White House has said”. This expression is used in a poem to mean communicate the idea that the government has done something. Therefore, poetry can communicate a lot of information from few words which are condensed.

Paul Valery on his side said that poetry is a living being. He said his voice is more important than the poetry itself. He said, what we need to understand when we read a poem is the voice being used to communicate the poem. By doing so, he claims that, it bridges the gap between the reader and the poem. Roland Barthes brought the aspect of how the poem is read. He thinks the style of reading the poem is important that the message is communicated as well.

Colangelo appreciated the fact that there are voices far away and whispering and can’t be heard well. Therefore, reading a poem might not lead to understanding it because of the voice not understood by the reader. When the voice is really far, then it creates an anthropological field when anthropologists study these long distant voices.

This lecture was also another interesting one. I learnt a lot about the some facts about poetry and many aspects about it. I hope I will be able to appreciate poetry soon and love reading the,




Origins of Poetry

In Professor Stefano Colangelo’s lecture on “Voice and Verse: At the Origins of Contemporary Poetry,” he first encouraged the audience to make questions about poetry and about the origins in and of poetry, and then took a practical turn and attempted to answer those questions.

In the first section, the asking questions part, Professor Colangelo took the audience through a series of quotes from poets throughout history.  These poets included a variety of famous voices, including Benedetto Croce and Gaston Bachelard.  Hearing words from famous poets of the past eluded to the feeling of a historical aspect to poetry, since people have been composing poetry and commenting on poetry since the beginning of time.  However, the actual content of the quotes presented by both Benedetto Croce and Gaston Bachelard contradict any sort of history within poetry.

Croce claims that art is “but a pure intuition…., the primordial form of knowledge” (Croce).  He suggests that intuition and expression are the essence of art, and thus there is no historical aspect to it.  Similarly, Bachelard also suggest that poetry is timeless.  He states that “poetry rejects all preambles, general principles, methods, and proofs” (Bachelard), suggesting that poetry stands on its own, without any regulations or history.  As with Croce, Bachelard suggests that poetry condenses all thoughts, topics, and concepts in a single moment.  Poetry has no origins, but is rather a general state of mind, with no past or future, but rather occupying a single moment.

It is an interesting claim to state that something has no origins.  Thus far in the semester, all lectures and discussions have stressed the ubiquitous presence of origins.  Nothing can come from nowhere, but rather everything has to come from something.  No person, no object, no idea comes out of thin air.  Everyone comes from a certain background with family values and social dynamics, among other things.  Each object in this world was made from something or made at some point in time and has since survived past that moment of origin.  Every idea is shaped by the ideas of others, the environment, and other influential conditions.

How then, can anyone claim that poetry has no origins? Poets have existed throughout history, creating poetry with evolving ideas, themes, and concepts.  Poetry exists all over the world and all throughout time, so how can it be condensed into a single moment?  Paul Celan states that “composing verse relates not so much to time, as to universal time” (Celan), but how? How can all the centuries worth of poetry exist in a universal time, when it has been composed over changing times and changing ways?

These questions are hard for me to reconcile.  Yes, maybe poetry is all connected in some way and each poem builds off of the previous and together all poems form a unified entity, but the field of poetry nonetheless has a beginning.  Poetry had to have started somewhere, just as with everything else in this world.  It thus seems unrealistic for poets to claim that poetry exists in a universal time, having no origins and being completely timeless and completely condensed in a single moment.

It is difficult to imagine or try to understand something as having no origins or history, especially a practice as old as history.  I thus wonder how these poets believe and convey such claims.  It also makes me wonder, however, if maybe somehow these claims are true or possible.  Does is make sense to understand poetry as a single condensed moment? Is it fair to disregard a history of poetry in such a way? If all poetry exists in a single moment, how is it possible to add to that moment without moving away from that moment?

Chaotic Understanding

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.

The Power of Poetry & It’s Origin Story

On Halloween night, our Origins class took a turn to consider origins in the context of poetry. Professor Stefano Colangelo from the Universita di Bologna spoke on Voice and Verse: At the Origins of Contemporary Poetry by bringing his audience through the verses and styles of many European poets starting in the seventeenth century, his specialty. As an individual who does not have a strong interest in or knowledge of poetry, I found it captivating to listen to the highlights of these poet’s works and the meanings and themes that Professor Colangelo was able to draw from them.

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