The Polish poet Adam Zagajewski has put this succinctly: “Poetry allows us to experience astonishment and to pause in that astonishment for a long moment or two.”... I think such astonishment is important as an antidote, or counter-tendency, to language’s great capacity for organizing, manipulating, and naming the world. Poetry – any poetry – is always political and subversive because it uses language, our foremost technological tool, against its powers of mastery and control. In poetry, language discovers its eros. In poetry, language is always a singer as well as a thinker, a lover as well as an engineer. Language delights in its own being as though it were an otter or a raven and not just the vice president in charge of making sense.
- Don McKay, in a speech at The Reykjavik International Literary Festival. Read the whole thing here.