Today in 1968: Margaret Atwood schools her interviewer on the meaning of "poetry"
Asking a poet what their poetry "means" is always going to be hairy, but when a CBC radio host posed that question to Margaret Atwood in 1968, it resulted in a McLuhan-esque conversation about the nature of human thought.
Atwood — 28 years old at the time, but already the winner of a Governor General's Award — brushes away the notion that poetry can be translated to or from prose, insisting that poetry isn't a form expression.
"One actually thinks in poetry," she says. "It's a form of thought, not a form of expression, because a form of expression means you have something separate from what's being expressed."
Host Bill McNeil, much to his disappointment, didn't end up getting a nicely packaged summary of what Atwood's poems "mean" (the question was regarding her then-new poetry collection, The Animals in that Country).
"You can't separate what I'm saying from the actual form in which it's being said," she continues.
Best non-answer ever?