My Audience

Most of my extended family and most of my acquaintances claim they don’t read poetry because they don’t understand what they are reading. This is my theory: Poetry submitted to literary journals is intended for journal editors, critics, and academics. Not the public. This can be very off-putting. It is no wonder ordinary people don’t like and don’t read poetry.

I try to write about serious subjects using pleasing language that is understandable by the general public.

Now, considering the ideas I addressed in the previous post (please read it!), if people read your poem and fail to understand what you are trying to say, then your poem is a failure. End of story. And if the reader fails to understand, there won’t be any consideration of the quality of the poem or the significance of the subject.

April 16, 2023

What Is A Great Poem?

OK, I am going to put my critic hat on for this one. When I read a poem, here is how I judge it.

First, do I even understand what the poet is trying to say? Even after reading it three or four times? If the answer is No, the poet failed to achieve his or her central purpose in writing the poem. It may make perfect sense to the poet. But if others cannot discern the meaning, it is simply a failure to communicate.

If this first step doesn’t work, the next two steps are irrelevant. The next two steps have to do with evaluating a poem.

Second, how fully has the poet’s purpose been accomplished? If I, the reader, get the meaning of the poem—the purpose of the poem—and the poem is technically brilliant, that is the sign of a GOOD poem. On the other hand, if I understand the poem, but don’t believe the poem is well written, it is not a good poem, in my opinion. Perhaps it could become a good poem with more editing.

Third, how important is the purpose of the poem? If (a) I fully understand the poem, (b) I think it is technically brilliant, and (c) I consider the poem to have an important purpose, then I would consider it to be a GREAT poem.

April 15, 2023