Defining Literature

Defining Literature
The definition of literature has been discussed and argued over time and there is no precise answer to be given. Any reader or author can define literature as whatever they wish it to be defined as. This is more of an opinion of how one views certain pieces of work or writings and whether or not they feel that is actually literature or not. Literature is any type of creative writing such as fiction or poetry, for example. Literature is also any form of body of written works of language, which could be from the English era or even as far back as the Shakespearean or Elizabethan era. It is also work from a specific period or culture defining key elements or somehow relating to and/or expressing how it is exactly from that time. The literature can mention popular events or activities that have taken place from that period or culture such as Mardi Gras or other well-known events. It must also include basic elements of literature such as tone and image included in the elements of poetry. A Night Without Armor by Jewel Kilcher is considered modern literature due to the fact that it is a body of written works of language, creative writing, and includes the basic elements of poetry essential to the classification of literature.
Poetry is one example of an author, poet, or any writer for that matter, to express one?s own views or opinions about a specific topic or reminisce about things from the past such as childhood, family, weddings, or other events. This is not excluding fictitious writings and short stories. Poetry is definitely considered creative writing for these reasons, and many more. Creative writing can be anything one?s imagination or mind wants to show them, or allow them to write or share with other readers and audiences. Jewel includes numerous examples of expressing herself and allowing readers to experience her creativity and imagination. In her poem, ?Dylan? in lines 4 and 5, she writes, ?Her hair was a halo of warm light / and color dripped off her tongue? (23). The reader can interpret just from those two lines the creativity and imagination not only in that one poem, but also in all poetry. The description of hair being a halo of warm light allows the reader to use his or her own imagination to perceive that image in whichever way they would like. Creative writing can be determined by many other things not only image or structure of how the poem is set into stanzas, but what is left up to the reader for interpretation. Jewel writes in ?Cautious? in lines 23-29, ?an open vessel / whose function it was / to be filled / until my consciousness / could return and / spit out / the bad seeds? (18). After reading these lines the reader can be left with different feelings and emotions that vary from disgust or simplicity. This is just another example of how poetry is creative writing.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, literature is defined as being the body of written works of a language, period, or culture. An author of any specific type of writing or works can include certain details pertaining to language or other details, which allow the reader to develop a sensory image of that specific period or culture. If the reader had no prior knowledge to the language, period, or culture of the writing he or she would be reading, upon reading and analyzing the text, he or she could be enlightened when this writing had taken place. Jewel writes in her poem ?Camouflage? in lines 11-14, ?because he fears / the red-necks / at the bar / are on to him? (43). This poem is about a homosexual man in a hotel lobby fearing other heterosexual males referred to as ?red-necks.? This implies the fact that all heterosexual, ?red-neck? males are frightening to other homosexual males. This is a stereotypical statement and from reading these lines the reader can notice this poem must be from around this time period and culture due to the fact that most of today?s society has been based on and reshaped to agree with stereotypes. The poem ?Cautious? was written about the heartbreak between two people after being in love as shown in lines 1-5, ?You don?t call / anymore. / You say / it hurts / too much? (18).

There are several types of elements of literature, which can classify the type of work into a specific category of literature. A Night Without Armor would obviously be categorized as having elements of poetry, such as tone and image. The tone of the writing, or specific line of the poem the reader reads, is how he or she creates the mood of that line. The line could be interpreted as being serious, humorous, or even dramatic, depending on the mood the reader creates for it, which is the wonderful ability poetry has upon one?s imagination and how each reader perceives details differently. In lines 17-19 in the poem ?Sara Said?, Jewel writes, ?please god / DON?T let ME / get pregnant? (35). The reader can create the mood for that line and each individual can see it in his or her own way. For some, the line may be loud and angry dialogue, or to some it may be sad and mellow. Image is another element of poetry that is existent in Jewel?s poems. The image is what the reader realistically perceives what he or she read the image of the poem or line to look like. In lines 9-11 of the poem ?Cautious?, Jewel writes, ?fragile cactus flowers / cast amongst / thorny ribs? (18). Each individual reader can see this image in their imagination as the words are being processed developing a mental picture or image for them. Not every reader?s envisions of cactus and thorny ribs will be the same as others. This image is left up to the imagination of the reader and how he or she perceives what was read.

While the absolute answer to the definition of literature still remains a mystery to some, people will have to explore their own thoughts and imaginations to what they believe literature really is. The definition of literature to readers is different for many, but could be similar on some characteristics as to what literature really is. Whatever a reader or author would like to classify literature as is left up to opinion and interpretation. Fiction and poetry is creative writing, which is literature. Language from all time periods is written works and is also considered literature, whether it is from today?s language or languages from many years ago. Literature is also from a specific period or culture, from time periods, such as the 60?s and 70?s decades. The time periods and culture, mentioning well-known events or occurrences can also include trends. There are other basic elements that define poetry as being literature. Image and tone are two of the elements found in poetry, once again classifying it as literary work. It is obvious that A Night Without Armor by Jewel Kilcher, is a body of written works of language, creative writing, including basic elements of literature which categorizes and aids in the classification of poetry as being considered modern literature.

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