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Enhancement of Policy through Key Poetic Insights

Poetry-making and Policy-making (Part #1)


Part F of Poetry-making and Policy-making: Arranging a Marriage between Beauty and the Beast (1993)


As noted earlier, the term poesis signifies ordering or organization. This is a concern shared by poetry and policy- making. What then are the insights and learnings to be obtained from poetics and poetry composition that might enhance the quality of policy-making? In part this exploration involves a recognition of what poetry seeks to accomplish with language -- since policies have to be articulated through language. In this connection it is worth noting that one director of a school of management summarized his task as "only teaching a new language".

Consider the following comments by Winifred Nowottny (1962) in The Language that Poets Use:

1. Poetic language

She argues for the "recognition of the part played by the corporeality of words, and by the structures which connect them, not only in determining lesser poetic effects but also in directing the larger mental and imaginative processes activated by the poem" (p. 2). As stressed earlier, such concerns are relevant in order to move beyond the characteristically unimaginative articulation of policies which inhibits the activation of the "larger mental and imaginative processes" vital as carriers of the subtleties and complexities of richer policies.

This, she argues, could lead "to a recognition of the fact that the various elements of poetic language interpenetrate one another with an intimacy which is of first importance in any consideration of how poetry 'works'" (p. 2). The future desperately needs policies that 'work' in the sense that they capture the imagination in powerful ways. There is therefore merit in being attentive to how the various devices used to articulate it effectively "interpenetrate" to achieve this.

used to articulate it effectively "interpenetrate" to achieve this.