"The shape of a doorframe represents a powerful architecture—during earthquakes, people are advised to stand in doorways because they are stronger and safer than anyplace else in a house. It’s possible to imagine the rectangle of a doorway as the rectangular shape of the page where a poem appears. When we are at an existential or psychological edge, the instability of subjectivity is potentially as dangerous as the chaos of a minor earthquake, and the rectangular shape of the page with its poem can be as reassuring as the doorframe in which we seek shelter.
The threshold is a place of transition; as such, it is a place of enormous vitality and activity as well as danger. Science provides it sown analogue to thresholds—something biologists call the ‘margin effect,’ which notes that life energy concentrates and is more various in places of transition … our nerves proliferate at the very edges of our bodies where skin meets world, and even more intimately, within our bodies, the greatest energy of chemical exchanges take place at the outer membrane of each body cell.
We also find the concept of the threshold in the social world … ‘Liminal’ means ‘threshold’ and is applied to certain transitional states like marriages, funerals, and initiation ceremonies—states in which ordinary social rules are suspended and an individual may undergo profound changes in identity. Ritual processes guide individuals through this symbolic ‘space’ of transformation, a space where social structures meet ‘anti-structure’ much as, in poems, order meets disorder. The lyric poem follows these biological and anthropological models. At the threshold, linguistic, imaginative, and emotional energies are vastly heightened …
Poets are drawn to and write from their thresholds, either inner or outer. In order to write well, a poet needs to go to that place where energy and intensity concentrate, that place just beyond which chaos and randomness reign.”
—Gregory Orr, from Poetry as Survival (The University of Georgia Press, 2002)