What Modern Poetry Is–And Isn’t

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.

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About marinamichaels

Clear and compassionate psychic, excellent writer, top-notch mother, card-carrying genius, humble and modest to boot. What else can I say? Loving everything without losing sight of reality.
This entry was posted in Examining the Self, Personality, Poems and Literature, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to What Modern Poetry Is–And Isn’t

  1. Pingback: World Class Poetry Blog » Blog Archive » Best Poetry Of The Web And A Book On Critique Groups

  2. Failure is always success says:

    Excuse me sir, but I don´t agree with you. Poetry is just the language of feelings. Poetry is about finding the way out of the cage of words using the only thing we have, words. Is like fighting fire with fire and it has nothing to do with rules, rhymes and mathematics. You can find a vast universe of poetry in numbers though. Feelings don´t understand about rules. Feelings are made of invisible neutrinos almost impossible to be catched. When you catch one of those neutrinos and you make it visible for those who have eyes to see, then you are making poetry.

    That´s my humble opinion

    Excuse me for my english and thanks for your attention

  3. Success is always failure says:

    Anyway I don´t think that my explaination helps to figure out what poetry is. I think no one can tell what is or what isn´t poetry. Depends on the receiver, not in the words. Happens the same with art. I can find more art in two fried eggs than in many of the paintings, sculptures or whatever in many museums.

    Thanks for your attention

  4. Failure is always success says:

    Excuse me sir, but I don´t agree with you. Poetry is just the language of feelings. Poetry is about finding the way out of the cage of words using the only thing we have, words. Is like fighting fire with fire and it has nothing to do with rules, rhymes and mathematics. You can find a vast universe of poetry in numbers though. Feelings don´t understand about rules. Feelings are made of invisible neutrinos almost impossible to be catched. When you catch one of those neutrinos and you make it visible for those who have eyes to see, then you are making poetry.

    That´s my humble opinion

    Excuse me for my english and thanks for your attention

  5. Success is always failure says:

    Anyway I don´t think that my explaination helps to figure out what poetry is. I think no one can tell what is or what isn´t poetry. Depends on the receiver, not in the words. The same happens with art. I can find more art in two fried eggs than in many of the paintings, sculptures or whatever in many museums.

    Thanks for your attention

  6. blasko says:

    in all the respect but i dont agree with you poetry doesnt need a rule book. but i would agree if some says this is a haiku i think i spelled that wrong what ever but if it isnt one then it isnt ive been writing for quite some time but i have heard this is not poetry
    so i kindly ask why
    cause it doesnt follow the exact way a poem is wrote
    know what i say to that writing is writing
    it comes from your heart and your mind
    mixed between the feeling of love and hate
    you words form a simple gesture
    of Self-esteem
    so tell me this isnt poetry
    you may agree
    but i will say this
    the modern age is always changing
    and so will its people
    and everything easle along with it
    as in its writing

  7. Yes, there are some forms of poetry that I am sure everyone would agree on–haiku, sonnets, blank verse, ghazals, villanelles, even limericks all pretty much follow specific rules for their construction. (Though even then, even if you follow the rules, that doesn’t make it good poetry!).

    It is when you get into free verse that it becomes much harder to see the difference between poetry and something that is just prose broken up intro poetry-looking lines. The “the world is changing” argument doesn’t work. If you start to say that poetry is anything you call a poem, then you have immediately lost all definition and distinction, and the word itself becomes meaningless, making it obsolete, because it no longer identifies a unique form of communication. You can point to a dog and call it a cat until you are blue in the face, but it will still bark.

    Fortunately, we do still have poetry, and it can still be identified. Perhaps free verse requires some education in learning to identify true free verse from prose-as-lines, but it is indeed distinguishable.

    And before you argue that you have no time for such education, all you would need to do is to actually start reading a lot of poetry and noticing what makes it poetry. Start with Marianne Moore, ee cummings, Robinson Jeffers–his “Hurt Hawks” still haunts me years after reading it–and other modern masters.

    Eventually, you will start to notice that even in what seems free and undisciplined, there is a great deal of discipline, a skilful use of language. Not necessarily the same types of use, but there are ways of using language that are tools that poets use. They might not use every tool, but they will use at least some, and that is what makes the result poetry.

  8. probiotics says:

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