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Book Excerpt from Ed Hirsch


 
Book Excerpt from Ed Hirsch
 Edward Hirsch is chancellor of the American Academy of Poets and president of the Guggenheim Foundation.

 

"There's never been a culture without poetry. That's why I call it a human fundamental. Poetry exists everywhere. There's language in every culture. So, this makes me think that people write poetry and read or listen to poetry not just because they are some particularly aesthetic-minded or weird people who like it, like you and me. It's not just that there are some bohemians who like poetry, even though there are some bohemians who care for it. It's that poetry has been instrumental to the making of culture all around the world. This makes me think there must be something necessary in poetry.

 

... this kind of entertainment, this kind of fiction-making seems really crucial to human beings and so the question is: What is that? And, in different cultures, I think it means different things. Traditionally, in all oral cultures, there are epics that are narrative stories that tell the tale of the tribe. And this is absolutely fundamental to people's understanding of themselves in oral cultures. So, poets are kind of the cultural historians and myth makers of a culture. They tell you the story of the culture of what it means to be Yorba or what it means to be Slovakian or whatever. It tells you what it means to be part of a tribe, to be part of a culture. For those of us living in non-tribal cultures, poetry offers us, I think, a kind of, I would say, unauthorized testimony. The overlap with religion is a gray area, but the difference is that religion is authorized. It comes with the cultural power and spiritual authority of a group or a church, whatever that church is. And people who join the church subscribe in certain ways to the doctrine of the church.

 

In poetry, there is no church. But, there is spiritual testimony, and that's why I call it unauthorized testimony. It's necessary as a spiritual testament, but it comes from a single person, from one without the authority of the group. It comes from the authority of the individual. That seems to me to be very American, very necessary for us, because of our great tradition of individuality, of the individual testament."
May/7/2013, 4:07 pm Link to this post Send Email to libramoon   Send PM to libramoon Blog
 
Christine98 Profile
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Re: Book Excerpt from Ed Hirsch


hi libra,

It's good to be reminded that poetry is significant, even necessary.

"unauthorized testimony"--interesting way to put it.

Thanks for the excerpt,

Chris
May/8/2013, 8:26 am Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 


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