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Recently, postmodernism has come to convey more completely prose and poetry as distinct entities, and also among genres of poetry, as having meaning only as cultural artifacts.
Postmodernism goes beyond modernism's emphasis on the creative role of the poet, to emphasize the role of the reader of a text (Hermeneutics), and to highlight the complex cultural web within which a poem is read.
Yet other modernists challenge the very attempt to define poetry as misguided.
The rejection of traditional forms and structures for poetry that began in the first half of the 20th century coincided with a questioning of the purpose and meaning of traditional definitions of poetry and of distinctions between poetry and prose, particularly given examples of poetic prose and prosaic poetry.
Early poems evolved from folk songs such as the Chinese Shijing, or from a need to retell oral epics, as with the Sanskrit Vedas, Zoroastrian Gathas, and the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Ancient attempts to define poetry, such as Aristotle's Poetics, focused on the uses of speech in rhetoric, drama, song and comedy.
From the mid-20th century, poetry has sometimes been more generally regarded as a fundamental creative act employing language.
English Romantic poet John Keats termed this escape from logic "Negative Capability".