A Poetic Encounter

Author: Huzeyfe Kıran


“Poetic encounter”[1] is a phrase that I came across in my first step during my GE learning journey at CUHK. It is a ‘first step’ not only because it was brought up in my first UGFH tutorial, but also an initial step into something that which is almost shocking due its mystifying perplexity; a feeling akin to the uneasiness of having initially stepped in cold water. Having failed to understand this phrase for years and ruminating on my journey while writing this reflection, I realized that what I failed to grasp was hidden in my GE learning experiences. I realized that my GE learning journey itself is a poetic encounter.

It ‘is’ a poetic encounter because it is not just an experience but a shapeless part of me that takes shape according to my momently encounters– still to this day. In other words, being exposed to different worldviews during this journey has helped me mold my understanding of the world. And my encounter with the world reframes what I thought I had learned in this journey. Hence, it is an encounter that is not limited to my time in CUHK and is an ingredient attached to my development as a person.

It is a ‘poetic’ encounter because, throughout this journey, I have had moments of hesitation – about whether I should step out of the boundaries of my intellectual comfort zone and assumptions; dissatisfaction – whenever each unanswered question gave birth to another one; confusion – whenever I realized the immense diversity of ways of explaining the world; excitement – of flourishing as a branched individual; and joy – of meeting people, both in and outside the books, of different times, thoughts, and backgrounds. I believe it is the roller-coaster of emotions that I experienced in this journey which makes it full of life. And what is more poetic than life itself?

It is a poetic ‘encounter’ because it is a journey that I would not have been able to fit in my life story a couple of years ago as a tenacious engineering student with a practical mind that prioritized utility over nobler and more humane values. However, once you commit to your ‘first step’ in cold water and eventually acclimatize to it, you dislike getting out. Hence, I now write this as a graduating anthropology student who has released himself to an ocean that feeds from numerous water sources – with an intention of understanding the human aspect of life. And experiencing the depths of Human is a path to knowing one’s self. Without knowing one’s self, what is the purpose of knowledge? What is the purpose of living?

as Yunus Emre[2] says:
Knowledge should mean a full grasp of knowledge:
Knowledge means to know yourself, heart and soul.
If you have failed to understand yourself,
Then all of your reading has missed its call.

Yunus Emre (Source: Internet)


[1] The phrase is taken from David Fleming’s Dictionary of the Future – “Encounter”. https://flemingpolicycentre.org.uk/taster-3-encountering-another/
In his words, “encounter is when… that conceptual structure vanishes. And you actually meet the being, as the being coming forth from itself, as itself, revealing itself to you in a way that’s beyond your intellect; in a way that’s much more deeply intuitive and much harder to express. In fact, scientific language is not appropriate for this kind of encounter. It is poetry that does it. It is a poetic encounter.”

[2] Yunus Emre (born c. 1238 – died c. 1320) was a Turkish folk poet and a Sufi (Islamic) mystic. His poems, written in straightforward and austere style, concern concepts such as divine love and human destiny. His great influence was able to turn simple Anatolian Turkish dialect into a language of literature, and he is regarded as one of the greatest Turkish poets.