something language does to itself

There are two ways to take the question 'What is poetry for?'... You can ask it neutrally, in which case there's a good answer. But you can also ask it as a challenge – what use is it? But you don't need to answer that one. Poetry shouldn't be on the defensive, because poetry doesn't have a case to answer...

If you burned every poem on the planet and you wiped every poem from every human mind, you would have poetry again by tomorrow afternoon... It's not something you do to language, so much as language does to itself under specific conditions – mainly shortness of time and emotional urgency. Any time that comes up, its grain and structure suddenly become apparent, all its music, rhythm and capacity for invention.

- Don Paterson, in yet another "What is poetry good for?" article (this time in The Guardian). You can read the whole thing here.

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