Wednesday, June 2, 2010

the effects of poetry on the mind

sean haldane a nominee for the post of professor of poetry at oxford, talks about his role as a neuroscientist and as a poet. i think this is a great read. i'll highlight a little bit of what he said.

"Q: Has work been done in studying the effects of reading poetry on the brain?
A: Neuropsychology can help to explain poetry, to demystify the impulse. There has been work done on why poetry can send shivers down our spine. The poem activates the same parts of the brain that react when a child is separated from its mother. A deep sense of separation and longing."

"Q: To borrow from psychoanalysis, do you think poetry gives closure on emotions?
A: I do think they finish things off, yes. Most of my poems are written in the heat of emotional things. I publish them much later. Someone once asked my wife what my poems were about. And she replied "what torments him". Because I am almost too close to them, it has taken me almost until last year to read them to other people."

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