What is Poetry? One might “claim that all fictional and/or figurative language is a subset of poetry.”
I like this claim. The above formulation is David Orr’s, from his book on poetry, Beautiful and Pointless. I prefer to say, “Poetry is Art created using the material of Language.” This subsumes “all fictional and/or figurative language” under the term Poetry, doesn’t it. I partly like this definition because it makes so grand a pronouncement as to stymie argument, or, rather, to move the argument so far away from the usual fussing over line breaks and stressed syllables that those tiresome old niggly bits don’t even come up.
David Orr does not approve. He calls this an “untenable position.” He says this “is like asserting that all games played with vaguely spherical objects are really ping-pong.”
So. Poetry is Ping-Pong? No, Mr Orr. Poetry is not Ping-Pong. No more than it’s Tennis. Or Football – can one say American football is played with a “vaguely spherical object” anyway? Is poetry a game? What score does one need in order to win?
source: Beautiful and Pointless: a guide to modern poetry by David Orr