“Not Numbering and Counting, but Ripening Like a Tree”: How Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet can Provide for both Students and Teachers a Framework for this Fuzzy Thing “Creativity”

By Kenneth DiMaggio.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Creativity is a word that gets kicked around a lot in the classroom these days. But is there a rubric that can help define this concept that often comes across as fuzzy or having no parameters or guidelines for evaluation? Such a rubric can be gleaned in Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet. For Rilke, creativity is often a Socratic-like dialogue that the artist has with him or herself, along with his or her environment. For the teacher trying to teach creativity or evaluate it in a student's work, Rilke's letters can help to deliniate how a piece of writing or even art, works or fails as a creative art form. For the student, Rilke's letters can provide the beginning writer or artist with a set of precepts that can provide plausible structure and form for a poem or story. His concept about creativity can even be applied to other art forms such as painting or sculpture. Creativity is not just a random act of inspiration; for Rilke, creativity involves maintaining a disciplined, truthful dialogue with your self and also with nature.

Keywords: Creativity, Belles Lettres, Socratic Dialogue, Poetry

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp.27-36. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 760.621KB).

Kenneth DiMaggio

Associate Professor of Humanities, Humanities, Capital Community College, Hartford, Connecticut, USA

I am an Associate Professor of Humanities at Capital Community College in Hartford Connecticut. CCC is an urban community college where students are often reading and writing at a level that is below traditional college course work, thus making literacy and writing a prime issue that constantly needs to be addressed. As a teacher of Literature and Writing, I am constantly looking for texts to help address the above issue, along with using creativity to help critically explore literary texts or critical papers.


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