The Poetics of Design, Part 3: MOTION & PATTERN

MOTION is the design principle that describes a relationship with time. Poetry cannot exist without an understanding and awareness of time. Language requires time to create meaning; according to Ferdinand de Saussure, language ONLY creates meaning because it occurs over time and involves a constantly-changing relationship with the terms before and the terms after.

In design terms, there are two types of motion: literal motion and compositional motion. Literal motion suggests that an object is capable of motion—that its state may, over time, come to occupy multiple spaces. Compositional motion describes the perception of movement by a viewer (or listener or reader)

Since time and space are inextricably linked, a poem in motion moves both literally (from the first word to the last word) and compositionally (through the air or down the page). All acts of perception require time in order to function. This creates a certain commonality between the ear and the ear.

"Lines can be combined with other lines to create textures and patterns." The next design element to be considered is PATTERN, the underlying structure that organizes surfaces or structures in a consistent, regular manner. This is, I think, what most poets and readers discuss and recognize in the poetic term “Form”—whether a poem has a discernable meter or rhyme scheme, falls into a repetitive system such as the sestina or villanelle, or works with internal slant or near rhyme.

Pattern is the ongoing recognition of familiarity that, when recognized, creates a line between point A (the initial occurrence) and point B (the repeated occurrence). Pattern is a system because it creates an overarching structure of meaning between multiple elements within a poem. Unlike other principles of design, pattern creates meaning not by signifying difference, but by signifying likeness or unity.

1 comment:

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