Arising from an ongoing project of research into the poetic structures and modalities of contemporary public language, this paper explores those instances where public figures perform or quote from poems to augment or illustrate the meaning of their remarks. Such a practice must somehow reflect performers’ understandings of the scope for poetic function in public language, since it is a conscious strategy in their communications. On the other hand, the sense of a ‘poetic turn’ (a turning towards poetry and away from not-poetry) reflects a sense that the poetic is somehow alien to regular or mundane public language.
This paper takes up themes and theoretical frameworks covered in several earlier papers the author has presented to New Directions in the Humanities conferences. Unlike those earlier papers, it expressly focuses on particular uses of poems within clearly political contexts. It will show that the public speaker’s consciousness of the poetics of poetry is inseparable from her or his poetics of public language. Its salient finding is that parliamentary speakers’ use of poems itself constitutes a poetic formula within the terms of the poetic-rhetorical system of parliamentary debate.
|Keywords:||Public Language, Political Rhetoric, Poetics, Poem|
Senior Lecturer, School of Communication and the Arts, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Research Project Officer, School of Communication and the Arts, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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