This thesis is, in part, a response to the loss of poetry as an epistemic discourse, a process that
began with the development of writing. However, it is also energised by new opportunities of
using the powerful tool of language, and techniques of poetry.
The thesis aims to update previous defences of poetry, rebutting Plato’s initial attack in Ion,
claiming poetry is non-cognitive. While building on a famous tradition, this thesis expands the
repertoire of argumentation, incorporating findings from the cognitive sciences, and insights
from pragmatist, phenomenological, and ecological perspectives on the emergent/embodied
nature of cognition. An emphasis on a speech-based poetics and embodied skilled practice, with
no claims to transcend the ordinary and everyday, undermines formalist approaches. This
approach is developed through an investigation of two new forms of the poem – ecopoetry and
hypertext poetry; fresh forms to reinvigorate, not only poetry discourse, but ways of dwelling in
Throughout this thesis, the processes by which language comes to mean, and be used, are
explored, with a view to explaining the power of poetry. Poems provide cognitive opportunities
for making use of the amazing cognitive techniques that we have co-evolved with; techniques,
which put us in touch with our environments.