One model of personality proposes that a mental chairperson is in control, calling upon specialist sub-modules to fill in the details. An alternative suggested by Dening et al is that the chairperson is just another sub-module - a spokesperson or facililator - the various sub-modules able to initiate events and determine how decisions are to be made. This makes a personality more akin to a society where the status quo might be overturned by mass-revolt, media pressure or terrorism.
Poetry (moreso than prose) can be seen to exhibit both traits. Sometimes a presiding unified voice (if not of the poet then at least of a persona) marshals the imagery, but it's been suggested that "poetic effect [is] the peculiar effect of an utterance which achieves most of its relevance through a wide array of weak implicatures." . This effect can be achieved by having many secondary meanings and by disrupting the usually foregrounded vehicles of sense (syntax, meaning, etc), making cracks so that the secondary effects can bubble up.
Secondary effects may develop a net of interconnections - leitmotifs. The idea of a decentralised network of ideas has been described by Deleuze and Guattari ('rhizomes') but of course goes back much further than that - "The governing principle of much Persian poetry is circular rather than linear; rather than a logically sequential progression, a poem is seen as a collection of stanzas interlinked by symbol and image - the links being patterns of likeness and unlikeness, of repetition and variation - which 'hover', as it were, around an unspoken centre" . Montage and Collage are non-hierarchical ways of incorporating diverse fragments producing a multicentred work, as are list poems. Such poems aren't understood clause by clause but retrospectively
- "Spatial Form (modernist poetics) gives unity to a literary work by a pattern of interconnected motifs that can only be perceived by 'reading over'" 
- "Modern poetry asks its readers to suspend the process of individual reference temporarily until the entire pattern of internal references can be apprehended as a unity" 
Here's the last stanza from David Hart's "Then in the twentieth century" which came 2nd in the UK's 2002 National Poetry Competition.
Men quarrelled about scrolls found in pots near the Dead Sea, the library
at Norwich burned down, milk was pasteurised by law, I have four children,
all adult now, small islands became uninhabited, Harpo never spoke on film.
Only at the end of this piece can readers decide upon organisational principles. The visual layout and punctuation provide few clues, and the order of clauses is more designed to accentuate local juxtaposition than clarify global structure. Readers need to suspend interpretation longer and work harder.
- "Relevance", D.Sperber and D.Wilson, Blackwell, 1986, p.222
- Glyn Pursglove, Acumen 25, p.9
- "The Art of Fiction", Lodge, p.82
- "Spatial Form in Modern Literature", J. Frank, Sewanee Review, 1945
- John Constable, PN Review 159, V31.1 (2004), p.40.