What is Poetics
Poetics of Place is a way
of understanding (or seeking to understand) the undefinable,
immeasurable qualities of the places we inhabit in everyday life.
For example, although scientists can measure the light waves
that make up the colors of the rainbow, this fails to address
the rainbow as beautiful, romantic, or meaningful.
- These qualities, which may
be more easily expressed in a poem than with scientific observation,
contribute to the rich textures and meanings of life.
- In our rush to go about the
busy-ness, however, we usually overlook the poetics of place
and their affects on the mind, emotions, body, and spirit. This
disregard for things like beauty and calm works to the detriment
of our well-being.
- I have gathered together
different sources of wisdom that contribute to the understanding
of how we experience space. These sources contributed to my doctoral
dissertation on the poetics of place in public gardens, and I
have now incorporated them into my consulting business. My consultations
involve the analysis of places (both homes and businesses) in
the interests of improving the way those places are experienced.
We are always in place
- places are much more than
- places affect the mind, emotions,
body, and spirit
- they carry content that is
not only functional, but also psychological, symbolic, perceptual,
artistic, creative, imaginative, kinesthetic, aesthetic, emotional-just
the sorts of things that are expressed in poetry.
- these messy, inexact, indefinable
qualities of place are hard to get at, and they are difficult
or impossible to measure. These immeasurable qualities, which
give life its rich textures and depth of meaning, are the poetics.
- "poetics of place"
refers both to the poetic qualities of places and to the process
of understanding and enhancing these qualities.
- I use a number of different
bodies of thought, all of which deal with immeasurables, to work
toward this poetic understanding:
Poetics of place is a way
of understanding places and our experience of them as if they
were poetry. We often look at places in terms of how they function:
the dining room for eating in, the family room for watching TV,
the office cubicle for working , the park for taking walks, etc.
When we think about places this way, however, we are treating
them as things or as objects. As objects, places are distant
from us, and they may seem to have little affect on us. This
attitude, however, shuts out another very important aspect of
We are immersed in places,
always in one place or another, and therefore intimately caught
up in the places around us.
© 2000 Scott P. Smiley
Coming Soon, pages on:
- Creating a home that nourishes the spirit
- Mythology and Folklore, applied
- Environmental Psychology