I love poetry as much as anybody. More than some, I am sure, though of course certainly less than others. I’ve studied it, written it, even been praised by a respected poet as having “it.” So I think I have some credibility in saying that much of what passes for modern poetry is not poetry. It is prose—sometimes pretty good prose—with odd line breaks. It is written simply by stringing together some words, maybe making some odd juxtapositions here and there, and then breaking it up so the appearance is that of poetry. Apparently the writers and readers of this non-poetry have no clue that this is not, in fact, poetry. Even some very well known “poets” are guilty of this.
I really don’t want to point fingers at anyone in particular. In all likelihood, the majority of the people who write this non-poetry earnestly and sincerely believe that what they are producing is poetry, and their feelings would be hurt were I to give some specific examples. Just as it isn’t productive to squash the first efforts of a child, I choose not to squash anyone in particular. It is highly likely that those who write this stuff, should they stumble upon this post of mine, will think I am talking about someone else anyway.
Yet still, if some people recognize themselves in this and are able to get past their hurt feelings and/or egos long enough to absorb what I am saying, the world may be a better place, with less faux poetry and more real stuff.
And anyway, maybe I am just being old fashioned here. Maybe what I should do is just relax and let people call any old string of words poetry. Heck, a computer program could be poetry. But—there is a deeper issue here, and perhaps that issue is worth exploring.