What is Poetry?

I’ve thought a lot about this question. Poetry means so many different things to so many different people. Honestly, before I began writing poetry, I thought all poetry was stuffy. I didn’t “get” it most of the time. They were massive tomes that sometimes rhymed and sometimes didn’t. But my experience was based on my high school literature days (more years ago than I care to think about).

Then I saw a blog from Papi Z that asked “How do you grade a poem?  It brought all of this up for me again and I wanted to just talk about poetry a bit.

I’ve been exploring many types of poetry forms lately. Some of them I like and some I don’t. I have found that writing a shorter poem within a form can be very challenging. Sure, anybody can string together the appropriate syllables, but using the exact words that will evoke the desired emotion takes work. I personally don’t really like long poems (I think I suffer from a short attention span). That doesn’t make them bad poems, just not the ones I prefer.

I would encourage everyone to read some poetry – find a poet whose style you like (I hope that would include me of course) – and immerse yourself in the words. Fall in love with how those words are chosen and get in touch with your own emotions.



12 thoughts on “What is Poetry?

  1. I always thought poetry was stuffy as well, the way it is taught in schools is awful, and doesn’t do it justice nor give it the credit it is due. Nice post Pamela.

  2. Such an interesting topic, and poetry choice tends to be such a personal thing, as you say. Beyond issues of form – if you are going to do a villanelle stick to the rigid repetitive structure required, if you are going to do a rhyming poem then make it rhyme and scan with the right rhythm etc otherwise no matter how great the idea the poem will ultimately be bad as that type of poem I guess – and apart from trying to avoid things like clichés and other forms of lazy writing, it really comes down to personal preference and what you like writing or when reading poetry, what speaks to you.

    For me I love poetry that takes me outside myself and makes me look at life a different way – unique ways of wording things, unusual and original insights etc, and poetry that deals with matters of depth that make you think. I am less concerned about being able to relate personally to a poem, in fact it often strikes me more when it makes me consider something I haven’t before, or look at life in a way that is uncharacteristic to me. I like poetry that makes me work a bit I suppose, LOL, because then it is profound to me. If I can just read it and feel/think nothing then it doesn’t touch me really.

    For me, if that means a long poem with complicates structure and thought, all the better, because then I have more to get my reading teeth into (so to speak). Unless something in a shorter work is very striking in its construction, wording or thoughts (as haiku often is, for instance) it won’t strke me as much.

    But for others I know something simple is more beautiful and touching, and something they can relate to will touch them more and this is just as validly called great writing. A fellow blogger friend of mind thinks that shorter form tends to be more popular on blogging – she has found since she wrote shorter poems she gets more attention and likes… the irony being many of the shorter works are parts she has extracted from her longer poems. So I think there is something in that perspective – in a world of blogs where we have to put time into keeping up with everyone there is something to say for shorter poetry just for that reason alone! 🙂

    Having said all that, even if T S Eliott, Rimbaud, Yeats, Shakespeare et al wouldn’t fit that popular form on blogging, the world would be much lesser for them not writing, and they will be remembered in the years to come, so every form of quality writing has its place. It would be a shame to see such wonderful work as stuffy because of the way it was taught. 🙂

      • It does, yes, as I think I said (if not that was my overall intent- I might have raved on a bit because I found the topic so interesting). 🙂 But there is still great writing that is remembered and that is for a reason, and there is poetry that doesn’t stick to form or structure correctly and is not good, so there are standards I suppose. Not all writing is great writing, but the scope of great writing is indeed very broad, and taste is always a matter of taste, as they say. 🙂

  3. i remember not too long ago when you wrote your first poem:) and now you are quite the lovely poet! i agree with personal preference and for me this crosses along all genres of writing. i fell into poetry – i just began writing.

  4. Pingback: Poetry? | Poetry by Pamela

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