Hunger Mountain - Vermont College Journal of the arts

List #1 – What is poetry?





Sub-verbal consciousness and feeling evoked through compressed, formalized language, distinctive patterns, and the purposeful disruption of predictable logic; Ultimately, the embodiment and enactment of past experience that happens to the present reader/listener, awakening heightened insight into personal and universal truths.

~Mark Cox, poet, winner of a Whiting Writer’s Award and a Pushcart Prize, and author of Natural Causes.


Poetry is the light feet make walking across wooden boards, that is your fingers, which are the language of love, in that it is also the burned out car, meaning, really, an empty field, which is grief, which is also one of our most important inner organs, but for the heart, which pumps throughout the night, a cool night, a rainy night, a night of the everlasting animal which is us, which is poetry.

~Matthew Dickman, poet and author of All-American Poem, winner of the American Poetry Review’s Honickman First Book Prize.


News voiced from the interior life of perception, feeling, dream and thought, articulated through an exercise of the imagination by means of the resources of language and syntax.

Often a critique of quotidian speech and thought.

A means of making language and therefore thought “new” by peeling away the calcification of usage that paralyses and limits meaning.

A means of awakening the reader to the pleasures of language – as music, as sound.

Participation in an ancient tradition that has preserved language: poets consciously or unconsciously respond to and make use of the work of poets who have written before us (“influence”) – one can therefore argue that making poems is a human need.

On the other hand: ln translating a poem, one may discover a moment when the poem hovers between one language and another, in which it seems to exist in a dimension independent of language.

~Honor Moore, poet and author of The Bishop’s Daughter, a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award.


Poetry is about arresting the furious energies of life, it should express the maximum meaning with the minimum words, and somehow deliver a shot of pure spirit to the vein.

~Grace Wells, poet and author of When God Has Been Called Away to Greater Things, winner of the Rupert and Eithne Strong Award, for the best first book of poetry by an Irish poet.

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