Question: What is good Poetry Anyway?

Sitting at a round table with friends…

What is good poetry? What goes in to making a poem successful?Make a list?

Should a poem take a stand–have an edge–grit?

Or should the masses be able to identify?

How many tag surfs or other searches do you do on blog sites only to click off as fast as you got there?

How often do you buy books of poetry? So are poets the only ones that read poetry?

Is poetry an art or a craft. Let’s talk.

23 Responses to Question: What is good Poetry Anyway?

  1. bluecup says:

    A good poetry is clarity of expression with a bit of obscurity. Does it sound like an oxymoron statement?

  2. Pris says:

    I liked an answer I read in an interview once…’I know it when I see it’. I find that’s true of me. I like some obscure poems. I like some very accessible poems. I don’t like poems filled with cliches or no sense of the use of sound, beat, inner rhyme and other poetic devices that , in a good poem, don’t announce themselves, but are just there. I read poetry books. I email links to poems that are published online to nonpoet friends. They tell me they’ve never read so much poetry as before I started writing it. I don’t think the general public reads poetry, or it would be in more bookstores and we might even get paid for it:-)

  3. I think poetry should be accessible on a first read but should reveal more the more you read it. I buy and read loads of poetry books. I know several people who read poetry but don’t write it, including my Mum (and she doesn’t just read my poetry!). Poetry is an art, a craft and a way of life

  4. Paul says:

    Those are all eternal questions requiring careful consideration. I will contemplate and maybe do it as a post and link back unless I forget in which case I will come back. One thing I know is good poetry is all of yours,

  5. Scot says:

    That is good to hear–I agree, I believe poetry is a way of life.

  6. mukulsworld says:

    poetry,my dear
    is something you ought to hear
    without being said
    something you feel
    as you feel touched
    or that touches your heart
    as only poetry can

    or the colours of smile
    that make you happy for a while
    or that makes your eye wet
    as someone’s sadness you get

    but the poetry you love
    are the words
    that someone left unsaid
    that you could have said

    but could not say
    before the words went astray

  7. johemmant says:

    Well this certainly counts……..very clever this piece.

    It is an art and a craft. And I for one am not a huge fan of really obscure poetry which takes infinite decoding, it does have its place but many poets seem to embrace complexity for the hell of it, why?
    For me it is about its power to move, be it a beautiful image, thought, emotion but saying that, words must be tied together cleverly. I have always bought poetry and read it but since I started writing it again (after a long break, ooops) I buy a book or two a week, sometimes more, and now my collection is far more contemporary, before it was all the old dudes (and dudesses 🙂 ). And I have discovered some writers that literally make the hairs on my arms stand on end they are that good……..but then I have read stuff in blogland that is amazing too 😉 I’ve also bought stuff and after the initial readthrough been less than impressed. I guess that’s another point, good poetry must be able to be read and read and read. Sometimes I read things and they make my mind ache because they are so good and I cannot imagine having the skill or imagination to combine images in that way and I am, I guess, humbled…….boy that was a longwinded answer Jo. I think we both know someone who would say that good poetry makes people talk 🙂

  8. Paul says:

    I reckon I can answer all those questions by just answering the last one, the difference between craft and art, and i want to use the word inspiracy in it again,

  9. Paul says:

    A good poem can be measured by its effect. A bad poem goes splat yeah there you go, a good poem has resonance, it creates a mental event in the reader that alters the flow of their thought. That is art, in the interaction between artist and observer, art is an active principle, craft is simply the methodology, art is the energy, craft is how it stored and released, the way in which that effect is achieved. One of poetry’s biggest problems at the moment is that there is just too much of it, Too many people have come to believe that all they have to do is express themselves, add a couple of poemnesses, like linebreaks or images or deliberate vaguenesses of meaning, and voila, there’s a poem. But it ain’t art, it’s selfexpression therapy, they feel better for having done it but the lack of creativity or originality, the lack of a genuine unique voice means it has no effect on the reader. I think it is becoming increasingly important to assert that to write poetry well takes a long time, Rimbaud’s a rarity, especially now that there are fewer taboos. To answer the fourth question, I have spent hours and hours looking at poetry blogs and they always reveal something of the person but as for actually enjoying how the poem is made, seeing something in the craft that is a pleasure, like enjoying a well made, well crafted object, sadly rare.

  10. enigma says:

    I cant add anything much to jos and pauls excellant diagnosis of poetry, except to say i agree with jo, I dont like it when its too obscure, some poetry (like ella wilcoxs) was really condemmed as trash by critics, i like it as it moves me, and there are layers there…I dont like things that try and be clever for the sake of cleverness, wether its poetry, art, language…

  11. Scot says:

    I can say I buy lots of poetry, but not from retail book stores–they have nothing but maybe Bukowski. Independents have good stuff,but I usually buy online from small presses and Amazon. I buy lots of chapbooks and some broadsides.
    I like a poem to say something and I usually have to relate to it in some manner. Overly long poetry, that is with long lines too is a turn off–I will get board and quit reading. I suppose I am like Pris when she says–I know it when I see it…maybe even before I read it–the way it is formatted makes a just know.

  12. nectarfizz says:

    Should a poem take a stand–have an edge–grit?
    It sohuld be whatever the poet feels they need to say.

    Or should the masses be able to identify?
    The masses don’t is your own truth that comes out I think.

    How many tag surfs or other searches do you do on blog sites only to click off as fast as you got there?
    I hate myspace ones..they take a lifetime to load. I check out quite a bit of blogs with poetry. I try to read at least 3 poems a visit. More if I like them a large amount.

    How often do you buy books of poetry? So are poets the only ones that read poetry?
    I would buy them had I money at the moment. I plan to start a collection soon. I think all kinds of people read them, just not as faithfully as other poets.

    Is poetry an art or a craft. Let’s talk.

    Poetry is art. Words don’t have to be colorful or even hard to understand to be true art, they merely have to illuminate and connect with the one reading it.

    Ps. You are a very good poet. Your style is different than mine, but thats why I like it.


  13. Bob says:

    I haven’t the foggiest idea.

  14. Scot says:

    I scrolled down anticipating a long post…laughing my butt off–

  15. I’ve been thinking more about this, I think reading loads of poetry before putting pen to paper to write your own can be a very good way of ensuring you understand the art and craft involved. Also although I agree with Paul that there is a lot of substandard poetry in blogland, there is also a lot of really good poetry in blogland, some of it relatively undiscovered, because some of the best blogging poets don’t network very much but quietly blog their work. I think where blogged poetry is okay but nothing special it is when it suffers from too much emotion and too little craft. Where ‘properly published’ poetry is okay but nothing special it is when it suffers from too much craft and too little emotion. I would go every time for the too much emotion over the too much craft, much though I admire and value craft in poetry.

  16. Scot says:

    Green Poet
    thanks for the second post. I agree,the writer should read lots and different kinds before writing. I am not sure what a lot means when referring to good poetry in blogland. I typically see too much emotion or a form of therapy writing going on over and over. Not that they don’t need it. But there is alos some very good stuff but the ration is nor even.
    You are so right in that good poetry is wasted because of the lack of networking. What can be done on this? It was my hope, and I guess I should have stated it, that those that have replied here to these questions–done so to each other–more of a discussion–not just a reply to me or the questions. Next time I will.

    Haikus in the traditional sense–craft or emotion? 🙂

  17. Ah good question about the haiku, its not about emotion at all, its about capturing a moment. I wasn’t thinking about haiku, strange given how many i write.

    I think you’re right, there’s too much poetry in blogs that is overemotional and really should be seen as poetry as therapy. But I did specify ‘poetry that is okay but nothing special’, by which i mean if poetry works as poetry (ie it is basically worth reading as poetry) then I am happier when the balance tips towards emotion. I’d rather read something that moves me but is not perfectly crafted than something that impresses me with its craft but fails to move me. If I think someome is writing prely as therapy I’m unlikely to read more than a couple of their poems.

    Maybe I’m not making too much sense there, I’m in the middle of a 13 day work period with no days off, when I’m used to a 4 day week….

    Networking – I think some poets start blogs just as a way of putting their poetry somewhere and barely care if they get many readers. I guess if one didn’t know about the networks out there then you would think that two new readers was good. I know that I have linked to some excellent poets’ blogs that get virtually no comments and its a shame when you compare them to less talented poets who can attract huge numbers of comments by networking enthusiastically. There’s also a time factor of course.

  18. johemmant says:

    Interesting discussion, though as someone who networks enthusiastically and writes often personal stuff maybe I should keep quiet GRIN.
    The networking is interesting, and I just made a similar comment on Dave’s blog, I know nobody IRL who writes, reads or is remotely interested in poetry. Therefore blogging is a lifeline to me, and I do have a blogroll and visit the people on it regularly, some daily, my faves, some every few days, but I don’t do it to attract comments I do it for the community. As for the emotion expressed, if it is expressed as well as something less intimate, say, I honestly don’t see what the big deal is. But that’s just me and I’ve always been a big fan of confessional poetry, frankly I’m a fan of all poetry as long as it’s good and I also don’t have a beef with people writing who are writing because they love it, be they good or bad, passion is passion; reading is after all not mandatory. It is all subjective, anyway…… I’d rather read something that is well crafted with clever use of words than emotional………we are all different 🙂 Great discussion, Scot (you too Juliet 🙂 )

  19. I network not because i want people to visit me back, but because i enjoy reading other people’s work, but it definitely has the advantage of bringing more readers into my poetry. I know several excellent poets who blog their work but who rarely visit other blogs and as a result aren’t well read in the blogosphere (I link to some of them).

  20. johemmant says:

    Well yes reading other work is the chief thing, of course. I live to read, spend a huge percentage of my time reading. And reading amongst peers is very useful because it is not as discouraging as reading something that is already published……..though there is stuff out here that certainly should be published, is as good, though it is rarer (but I’m not starting on that tack, I don’t like it)…….what I like about blogland is the energy, the surge……and collective creativity, collaboration, feedback, you don’t get the last three from reading a Faber and Faber.

  21. Vincent says:

    I can’t be bothered with most verse, online or anywhere else. It will be easiest to say what the faults are which put me off.

    – strings of words which ought to be set out less pretentiously as prose to see if they stand up in that format
    – thoughts expressed in abstract language instead of imagery
    – imagery which has no resonance because it is merely a description of something experienced, for example something beautiful to the writer, without translating the experience into words of equal impact
    – clever stuff patently done for effect without the impact of real experience
    – lacking appropriate rhythm or musicality
    – slack self-indulgent stuff which doesn’t take great pains to reach the reader directly
    – private images and vocabulary which leaves the reader in a fog of incomprehension
    – inconsequential stuff which completely fails to reflect the primal pathos of life—that there is beauty and then we die; or that there is much more to life than meets the eye; or some other equally weighty undercurrent

    Another way to put the above would be this. If a person doesn’t feel at grave risk of failure in the project of writing a poem, doesn’t feel the pain of a hundred flaws to be avoided, then I don’t see how that poem can succeed.

    But then, I only wrote one poem in my life that I thought worthy of the name, and I am not sure about that, now.

  22. ybonesy says:

    The poems that resonate with me are grounded in nature. I think of Mary Oliver, and I think of how much her writing is alive and present to the physical world. It’s not a connection to nature in terms of the content; i.e., not solely writing about nature. Rather, it’s being awake to the world and transmitting that awakeness to the rest of us.

  23. address419 says:

    With me it’s an urge, if I don’t get up and write it down, I don’t go to sleep. So now we have a blog world, so now the world can see what keeps me up.

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