I'm reading Jason Fried's book Rework, and I don't understand what poetry means in these sentences:

Pare down to the essence, but don't remove the poetry.

Leave the poetry in what you make.

  • Here poetry is used to represent the art or craft, or more generally what is fine or magical about a thing. – Robusto Dec 13 '14 at 14:21
  • @Robusto I'm suddenly reminded of Johnny Tillotson and Poetry in Motion from the pre-Beatles era of 1960s music; before Liverpool took over as the world capital of popular music. Historians of the genre have looked for influences upon the Fab Four. Buddy Holly was certainly one. Maybe Tillotson could have been another. Sorry if I digress. All this was before your time. – WS2 Dec 13 '14 at 14:37

The word poetry is used figuratively in those quotes, presumably to suggest leaving (not removing) what is beautiful, elegant, layered and evocative. Usability of poetry in that way is hinted at in explanations of what poetry is, in en.wikipedia's Poetry article and in etymonline's Poetry entry. From wikipedia:

Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language — such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre — to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning.


Without having read Fried's book, and not knowing the sentence's larger context, the prescription seems to recommend removing what is unnecessary while yet bringing "art" or "creativity" to the task at hand. For instance, whereas one does not generally wish for "poetry" in a set of instructions, some instructions are more successful than others. What accounts for the distinction? I would suggest that the author of the more successful set of instructions employed greater creativity. When Fried's advice is applied to poetry his meaning is less clear to me because, while my goal as a poet is certainly to avoid or remove anything unnecessary from my poetry--because what is unnecessary detracts from a poem's success--the act of poetry is, by nature, a creative or artistic endeavor, and cannot be composed by rote or without employing "art" or "creativity". Though, like a set of instructions, some poems are more successful (or fulfill their intent) than others. I believe that, in both examples, the distinction hinges upon the degree of art or creativity one brings to bear.

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