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Bad Poetry?

Is there such a thing as bad poetry, and how do we determine when such exists?

On another poetry site I saw a statement on the main page: "There are no bad poems, only different kinds of poetry."
I wonder how such a statement might appear regarding other areas of human culture:
There are no bad drivers, only different kinds.
There are no bad foods, only different kinds.
There are no bad cooks, just different kinds of cuisine.
There are no bad leaders, just different styles of leadership.
There is no bad sex...
(well, I guess there are exceptions.)
Seriously, in the real world of art or logic, if we cannot separate out a class called "bad", then we have no comparison to identify a class called "good". If there is no bad poetry, it seems to me there is no good poetry.
Of course there IS bad poetry - lot's of it, too. I've seen it, read it, heard it. If the category of "quality" doesn't exist, then why should any poet work hard at improving their work, given that it can never achieve the status of "good" or "bad"? The idea of improvement itself implies a progression to "good"; hence, if there is no such category as "good" and "bad", then improvement would seem to be precluded.
Alcuin
sinnaminsun
on Aug. 22 2009

An old post with a new comment.....I agree with everything you've stated.  Your point parallels the good/bad, dark/light, yin/yan scenarios, yet I think people's personal preferences of what they think is "good" makes poetry very subjective. 


Mercieca, Andrew
on Feb. 8 2008

I admit to the enjoyment of writing purposfully bad poetry at times, it's always enjoyable to see who can be open and honest, who does/doesn't see beyond the message contained therein and who the gullible ones are who think it's pure perfection just because I wrote it!

Give me a worm, I'll catch you a Marlin for breakfast....

Mos.


Leanne Hanson
on Feb. 7 2008
I've given up caring.  Of course there's bad poetry.  I have come to a very important conclusion:  it's all shit unless I write it.  It's about time the rest of you realised that too.

Stephan Anstey
on Feb. 7 2008
Sadly, I think you're wrong about a lot of this. I do think when critics and supposedly erudite folks all elevate inaccessible dreck it does make people forget what good work is. It lowers the standard. It is bad. Perhaps I won't forget. Perhaps I have enough backbone to stand up and say I like something or not. (perhaps i don't)

dotdotdot
on Feb. 7 2008
I still disagree.  When I see a bad movie, I don't forget what a good movie is like. Do you?  It doesnt taint the uh.. 'art form' for lack of a better word, as a whole. When I read a bad poem, I don't lower my standards for what I consider good  poetry. And, what do you mean "everyone believes that the shit is caviar". You're talking about EVERYONE now? You mean THEM, right? This sucky "them", whoever they are. (AND THEY SUCK). And then, you say, WE lose. Who is the we? Poetry as a whole? There IS no whole, it's just a bunch of subgroups (see: us). And yeah, maybe in the popular media, maybe all the Angelous will be hailed as the epitome of poet-y perfection, and it'll annoy the holy Baby Jesus out of you - but if that's what you're worried about, since when have the dominant culture, the majority of people, had any good taste and discretion anyway?

Stephan Anstey
on Feb. 7 2008
Everyone should be a bit of a police officer when it comes to the standards. If everyone believes that the shit is caviar and they forget what the caviar really is, we lose it. It's gone. Shaboomboombamity. Just GONE. Forgotten. And we're left with Maya Angelou's damned bird.

dotdotdot
on Feb. 6 2008
Also, isnt it kind of hilarious to watch people eating shit and thinking its caviar? I dont know about you, but that sounds like the kind of activity I'd like to be an observer of.

dotdotdot
on Feb. 6 2008

Yeah, but why do you care if some people call bad poetry good? Who cares? What are you, the thought police? (No, you're not, the position has been filled - by me).

 

 


Stephan Anstey
on Feb. 6 2008
I think my problem isnt' that bad poetry exists, it's that people call it good poetry. The existence of shit, only elevates the non-shit. BUT, when you start calling the shit caviar, that doesn't make it so.

dotdotdot
on Feb. 6 2008

Anstey's comment above reminds me of a discussion psycholgists (those effin wankers) sometimes have regarding things like projective personality assessment tests (like the Rorscach). People are like "Um, that test isnt very scientific, psycholgy is a science, stop it" and other people are like "yeah, but it helps some people so who cares if it's scienctifically perfect".

So it's like that to me, this argument. You can say, bad poetry is bad, it hurts the name of poetry in general, it lessens the "art of poetry" (actually anyone who uses that expression should probably be punched in their pretentious little head). BUT some people like it, makes 'em feel all fuzzy inside, like Anstey said.  I'm not sure why we're so set on placing a value judgement on it anyway. It's not like by putting our official stamp of disapproval on BAD poetry (which is so freaking elitist of a thing to do anyway, as Emily pointed out), it's going to go away. So...in conclusion, don't hate the game, hate the player. And by player I mean specific poet. Yes.. that is my general theory for life, actually. Direct your hatred at the specific target of said hatred. The specific bad poet. Break their spirit with your superior wit and knowledge. Make them feel like the uneducated peons they are! I MEAN REALLY. Say this "HOW DARE YOU TRY TO WRITE POETRY.LEAVE IT TO THE PROFFESIONALS." Make sure to point out that you're the professional. And they are not.


Stephan Anstey
on Feb. 6 2008
I am now stuck not so much on the existential question of bad poetry, but whether the evil perpetrated by bad poetry outweighs the good it does in cultivating warm fuzzy feelings in otherwise sad people.

Jasmine Mann
on Nov. 28 2007

Ok good, because if it were the latter, i would have puked.

And Arnold is AWESOME.

----- "Milk is for babies. When you grow up, you have to drink beer." - Arnold




"Milk is for babies. When you grow up, you have to drink beer." - Arnold

dotdotdot
on Nov. 28 2007
In a "that's awful" gold way. Unlike your Arnold quote regarding Milk, which is just frickin' hilarious.

Jasmine Mann
on Nov. 28 2007

In a funny gold way, or in a it's beautiful and speaks to my heart gold way?

 ----- "Milk is for babies. When you grow up, you have to drink beer." - Arnold




"Milk is for babies. When you grow up, you have to drink beer." - Arnold

dotdotdot
on Nov. 26 2007

OPINION! THIS IS WHERE MY OPINION GOES BUT I DONT REALLY HAVE ONE ON THIS TOPIC.

 

I just wanted to say that these lines of the poem Jaz posted

"To hear you leave is like thunder,
Deathing me till I bleed"

 

Are pure gold. Best. Ever.

 


Margot Meloy
on Aug. 15 2007

Woo! I love threads such as these. They get me fired up.  I've had this discussion one too many times. Here's the thing; in High School, I read Neruda and decided that *I* was going to be a poet. I brought my crappy poetry to my English teacher and he would "oo" and "ahh" over it for me. I tell you what, if he had said "this is bad", I would've stopped writing. Not sure if I would've stopped had he said "this is bad. Here's how to make it better..." I think that these sunshine-critique websites you speak of (cough..pathetic) assist other people in doing the same thing. They are sort of the nursery school of poets, if you will. The ones for people who want to build up some confidence before they hand their poetry to someone who will objectively tear it apart. Ah, the passion of it all.

 I remember taking several CW classes in college. They were all watered down and tepid, but that is the Americana way, yes? One of my ex's called it McPoetry. I think that's a good way to put it. In any case, I enrolled in another poetry class in Spring 2005 where my professor gave me much of the same; unwarranted encouragement. However, in *this* class, there was a guy who read my first poem and told me, in so many words, that it sucked. Of course, by this time I had the confidence to listen and try his suggestions instead of saying "Woe is me" (cough....I don't care what you say, we're poets, we're all a little emo) and quitting the pen for good.

He saved my writing by kicking my ass all up and down the page. The best conversation we had was about the objective rules to art. Something that makes a piece of art "good" or "bad" and there are also rules for painting, music, dance, etc. Don't let some artist paint a circle and sell it to you for a gazillion bucks. Use your head.

hahahaha McPoetry. Cracks me up.

Great thread, btw. Made my day.


Leanne Hanson
on Aug. 1 2007

I think... maybe... possibly... deciphering the twisty bits...

... you might be onto something.   

Oldagyz
on Aug. 1 2007
Ok let me flesh this out quick before I forget (and believe me I was starting to come comment 20)

basically for this statement to be true you need to redefine some of the base values of it

firstly, "Poem" becomes "Natural Poem", as in something which is a direct expression of 'poet' with no professional bells whistles swings lignerie sweet secrets.

As such you rule out all intentionally bad poems, however you leave in all the emo-crybaby-attentionseeking drivel that clogs your very arteries and leaves you weak, pale and reaching for the sky with an exasperated scream of "get that bad poetry the hell away from me".

secondly you now need to redefine "Quality/Good/Bad", now technically speaking im sure there are many many dimensional factors that interlink overlap existoutofcomprehension blah, what we need is a system wherein combined with the first change we cannot fail. My suggestion here is to "Romantacize" the ideal of what is good and what is bad, so that the very fact that there is an underlying heart driving the whole affair (be it artificial or bloody) MAKES it beautiful-->good.

And thats how its done! (simply dismiss all "bad poetry" as "not poetry" hush hush)

I apologise for the way this was written, its post 4am, however, as always, my logic is sound. :P

Emily Rose
on Jul. 17 2007

 

Bunch of elitists.

Bad poetry has its place, and an important one.  How else would the barely passable poets such as I ever remain in their warm cloak of denial without being able to compare their work to the truly horrible drek that's out there.

Uh huh, bunch of elitists.

 


Ruth Elliott
on June 14 2007

bah! my poem is much worse than her's

although I am slightly jealous of the dessert/mouth imagery...


Jasmine Mann
on June 13 2007

http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/56996519/?qo=9&q=by%3Amycoldshiver&qh=sort%3Atime+-in%3Ascraps

Happy birthday!


-----
Contemplate this on the Tree of Woe.


"Milk is for babies. When you grow up, you have to drink beer." - Arnold

Jasmine Mann
on June 13 2007

Man, i wish i could have found this person's pathetic page for y'all. I mean, seriously, if you would have read some of this person's stuff, you'd know what i was talking about.

Maybe i'll surf Deviantart for some golden stuff. That place always has the best stuff, too.


-----
Contemplate this on the Tree of Woe.


"Milk is for babies. When you grow up, you have to drink beer." - Arnold

Julie herself
on June 13 2007

 

OMG, Callooh!  LOL!

Eh . . . I'm sure there's good poetry and bad poetry, but I'm also sure I'm not the judge of that.  I'm just holding on to the thread of hope that one who tries can improve.  I'm also sure there's such a thing as good critiques, and bad critiques.  While I may be a poetic amateur, I'm pretty astute at other things, and frankly some critiques say more about the reviewer than the actual poem.  Fortunately, for the most part, people around here are pretty tactful in their honesty, so my heart is all warm and fuzzy about y'all. 


Ruth Elliott
on June 12 2007

I love you like my teddy bear

cuz you're soft inside and have a furry back

I love you like the flowers fair

your pouting stamen,  and harry crack

I love you like the summer air

your manly smell, and hygene lack

I loved you on my best friend's dare

but I have to say you suck in the sack.

 


Melden Fred
on June 12 2007
Everyone here seems to convey similar messages: Poetry can be bad; and poetry imroves only when the poet is receptive and doesn't treat his work like it could be found on page 47 of the Bible. Ruth, I have received similar feedback to my comments. I've been called arrogant (probably right), untactful (which is a tactful way of putting it), and far worse for pointing out to someone who had written 3 cowpies worth of script that if they respected their own work, they would at least take the time to run it through the spell-checker.
And Jasmine, I love what you said like the sun and the moon and the sky and the flowers and teddy bears.
Alcuin

Jasmine Mann
on June 12 2007

Awesome discussion. I'm going to admit i didn't read half the comments on here, no offense to anyone, so if i cover anything someone else already covered blame my ADD.

But i must say there is bad poetry. There is exemplary, good, mediocre, amatuer and then there is just plain bad. My definition of bad is thus: it is the writer's inability to be better and to want to be better. We all start out at the bottom. Most of us here are amatuers (i.e. unpublished and not famous). There are different degrees of amatuers as well: exemplary, good and mediocre. Most of that is subjective to the reader, but at least most of us poets try to write good poetry.

On Pathetic i saw a lot of bad poetry. Not just one poem from person, but many poems from one person. I wrote said person a comment saying everything that was bad with one particular poem (which was, suffice it to say, everything). I was harsh, but i was concise, and i stated that i hoped the author would be open to discussion and to try harder (perhaps i maybe was too harsh). I got a message from that person asking why i was so mean and why i was a big meanie poopie head and to go jump in a lake. Not verbatim, but you get my drift.

That is when i realized that there is poetry and then there is bad poetry.

If you write, "I love you like the sun and the moon and the sky and the flowers and teddy bears because they make me warm and fuzzy inside just like you!" and call it honest-to-goodness Shakespeare grade A+ poetry, you have just written a bad poem. It is not a different type of poetry. It is bad; it is your inability to see that it is bad poetry, that makes everything you write bad. Lacking elements that make up good poetry in your poems doesn't mean it is bad, but lacking elements that make up good petry and the inability to strive for perfection is what makes bad poetry, bad poetry.


-----
Contemplate this on the Tree of Woe.


"Milk is for babies. When you grow up, you have to drink beer." - Arnold

Ruth Elliott
on June 12 2007

there is nothing better to wake up to in the morning then words of love from you Leanne.

I think I may feel a tear forming....


Leanne Hanson
on June 12 2007
Jeez Ruth, what I meant was all writing is redeemable except your crap...

Ruth Elliott
on June 12 2007

Fascinating thread. I won't comment on the existence or non-existence of bad poetry - my first attempts deserved metals in the bad poetry hall of fame. Jeez I still have no idea if what I write is any good. What I do practice is listening to well founded critical comments, and taking them seriously.  Perhaps that might be a difference - I have written ... I don't even want to count them ... many long, carefully thought out reviews, only to be told I was off my rocker and dead and head was a meaningful rhyme (not making that one up). I have received an almost equal number of reviews that "didn't get it" or tell me I should "cheer up" or did I notice it "didn't rhyme"

In the end, I don't think the quality of the writing makes too much difference, what will make a difference is the attitude of the writer.  I can only say what has worked for me is listening, and learning (this is a continuing process) to follow my own instincts and write as honestly as I can. When I wrote to make an impression on others (yes, and I am embarrassed about that) it was drivel. When I write honestly and then listen to the opinions of those I trust, my work becomes polished and distilled. None of this could have been accomplished outside of a critical community - I am insanely grateful for the honesty I have received about what I write (even the comment, "you know I think this is likely the worst thing you've ever written" - sometimes you really have to smack me in the head!).

So not to make this all about me (insane egomaniac that I am), but I simply don't feel qualified to judge another's writing as good or bad.  I like and dislike many poems (including some of the best loved classics...) but lack the critical ability to make any other comment on a piece of writing.  Leanne said something like all writing is redeemable (gross paraphrase) and I initially scoffed, but who am I to say what is and what isn't? If it were not for initial faith in me by other more experienced and talented poets I never would have improved and would have given up the whole writing thing (never could get into the sycophantic circle jerk).

I think this is likely enough brainless babbling for one night and one topic, but thanks very much for the thought exercise, I quite enjoyed it!


Melden Fred
on June 7 2007
Jeffrey, you ask an interesting question. There are certain writers who soothe their egos with something analogous to the famous joke, "I wouldn't want to join a club that would have me as a member."
Their attitude is that being outside the community of published poets makes them s-p-e-c-i-a-l.
Crap sometimes gets published, but more often does not. Good poems often get published, but I believe that because of the sheer number of writes, most are bound to be rejected - there's only so much publishing space available. The point I and others here have made is that the "worth" of a poem is not necessarily denoted by its acceptance by a publisher. Most important, we reject the original statement, "There are no bad poems, only different kinds of poetry," which I saw quoted on a poetry site (from whom, I don't know). There are bad poems, mediocre poems, and good poems. Some of each get published, though my reading indicates more of the last than the first do so.
Alcuin

Jeffrey Parren
on June 6 2007

So what if all the publishers printed what you considered bad poetry?  Does that mean your poetry is good, yet still worthless?


-----
~JPP


~JPP

Pug Mayne
on May 7 2007

"There are no bad poems, only different kinds of poetry."

 Aaaaaaggggh! No really....aggggggggghhh!  Like Derma, I can unequivocally confirm the existence of bad poetry. Good thread. I love the fact that some of the heavy hitters in this community are weighing in and saying, "It's ok to have a negative opinion of something." It really is. Everyone who's ever written has probably produced at least one piece of complete shite on their way to producing the really good stuff. (On reflection the one possible exception to this is W.H. Auden or "insert the name of YOUR favorite poet here.".) And sometimes, you produce shite and don't recognize it's shite until someone is gracious enough to spend their time on it and then state a supported opinion of why it's shite. It's interesting that most of the people who've weighed in here do that regularly and well. It's also interesting that most of them are the people I consider some of the better writers on this site. (Honestly...I swear, I am not trying to suck up here.) The way I look at it, is how can you produce the good stuff, if you don't define what you think constitutes bad stuff? So thanks to you all who've weighed in here. Thanks for daring to care enough to form an opinion one way or the other.

 


Leanne Hanson
on May 4 2007

No Jen, I don't think any of us see children's poetry as a lesser genre at all.  I'm rather jealous actually -- writing for children is one of the most difficult things to do, in my opinion.  Kids are a horribly demanding audience.  When reading a poem for critique, if you don't consider the target audience then you're just a moron completely missing the point.  I love what you write... but hippos make me scared...

 


Jennifer Ragan
on May 3 2007

 

Wherever I go I am always the only children's writer/poet.  I don't know where other children poets post their dribble or even if such a site exists. 

I'm sure some of you see a title like "Hungry Hippos" and think what the hell is she doing here?  There goes the poetry site. She can't be a serious poet with her goofy foolishness but I am serious.

There are many types and styles of poetry and even good poets write bad poetry sometimes.  I once knew a guy who I thought wrote terrible poetry but was great at giving feedback. 

I guess my point is; if a writer is truly serious at crafting their work, they will take suggestions implement them and learn from their mistakes. Having an unbreakable backbone would be good too.

Editors have standards for what they consider publishable.  Holding our work to that standard is what we are all striving for.

 

 


Melden Fred
on Apr. 30 2007
Rene: Who the hell wrote that crap?
It was probably me!
...and stop stealing my old crap!
Alcuin

Rene Jones
on Apr. 30 2007
The high standards of this site and all of its members is exactly what I myself was looking for when I stumbled across all of you guys! It prepared me for the creative writing class that I am now finishing up and for the intermediate poetry class that I will taking next fall. Yes, there is bad poetry, there is bad everything and anything. We have all come across it or done it ourselves. I look back over some of my earlier work and sometimes just who in the hell wrote this crap!!?
Striving to be better and better is a worthwhile goal to say the least(bad cliche I know) but it is so worth the effort.


I am orbiting, I don't know where, but I am orbiting something!

Leanne Hanson
on Apr. 29 2007
"Higher level" poets started out as lower level once... and any who forget that don't deserve to be allowed to share their work in a peer environment. 

Poetry is a whole lot more than sitting down to write, it's opening your eyes and learning to translate what you see into words, so that other people can see it too (or at least know where to look).  The more you read, the more directions you look in and obviously, the more you see.  Reading poetry also gives you tools to craft thoughts into words -- or turn fluid into static and back into someone else's fluid.  (No jokes about swapping fluids, thank you.)

See one, do one, teach one.  That's what we should be here for, in my opinion.

Paradiso, Tracey
on Apr. 28 2007

“Quality breeds quality, in my opinion.  And I will say this:  I have left poetry sites because of poor quality in both writing and feedback, but I have never and would never leave because a site sets an example of excellence that might be above me.”

Amen to that. Examples of excellence can help to breed excellence. Better “players” help the rest of the team to elevate their “game.” That is, if the rest of the team wants to better themselves. The example and the inspiration are right in their faces to take or to leave.

I think of those other sites as a sort of “easy pass.” I don’t mean it as an insult, so much as there are nice people who I’m fond of there, some of whom write nice poems (which I’m happy to cheer) and a few of whom write brilliant poetry. I avoid the attention seekers (and oh, my, there are many). My visits there have their place and my expectations are realistic.

I come here for more intimate communications with fabulous people who are writers, either brilliant or aspiring to be. I come here for honest and detailed feedback on my poems and to give others the same – or learn how to do so. I come here to read poetry that is more likely to take my breath away than not. Poetry that shows me the beauty and freedoms of form. Poetry that makes me wet, or makes me sigh, or rolls in and out of the ordinary thoughts of the day as I soak it in bit by bit over hours or days.

I think that building a site of such caliber is going to require more patience from the “higher level” poets than anyone else (and for the patience that has been extended to me thus far, I thank you). Stephan, I think you should stick with the strength of your vision. If you don’t you’ll be unhappy. And the place is still in its infancy; there’s room for all kinds of growth within the parameters of what you’re looking to create.

I think it’s Harley Davidson that calls its management style “freedom with fences.” There are guidelines to follow, and within those guidelines creativity reigns. That’s the impression I get of what you’re building at Shakes Monks.  

 


Stephan Anstey
on Apr. 28 2007
The collaborative area, i think should only be used as a game, or when two poets are trying to achieve something completely different. because using it to work one poets poem over will probably end in anguish.




- stephan

Melden Fred
on Apr. 28 2007
Stephan:
Good point about not wanting to discourage those with potential, but not wanting to hand out unwarranted compliments either. Obviously, you’ve tried to have the best of both worlds by creating a collaboration area. The concept is good, but I think the original writer is going to see his (her) work modified, then see the modifier’s work modified, and so on for several cycles, until what is being corrected or improved bears no resemblance to the original write.
I do agree with Leanne – let’s help those who can use (and will accept) help, but let us not lower standards. Let’s raise others up.
Alcuin

Stephan Anstey
on Apr. 28 2007
I am selfish. I love to read excellent and interesting new writing. So, i try to accumulate friends that do that sort of thing.

What a wanker.



- stephan

Leanne Hanson
on Apr. 28 2007
Quality breeds quality, in my opinion.  And I will say this:  I have left poetry sites because of poor quality in both writing and feedback, but I have never and would never leave because a site sets an example of excellence that might be above me. 

I've been thinking about this a bit more and have come to the conclusion that I write poetry partly because I love to read poetry.  I don't see the point of a site on which you have to really work hard to find anything worth reading.  That's not to say that every work posted should be instantly perfect -- obviously not.  We'd all have to leave right now if that were the case...

But really, if a site were full of lousy poems that were all evidently thrown together and stuck out there for ego value, why would you bother to stay if you loved poetry?  The only reason I can think of to pollute a site like that is if all you're doing is logging on, posting something, begging for comments and leaving "I love this" comments on other people's work just so you get some fake validation in return.  Those sorts of sites are plentiful on the internet (cough... pathetic.com... cough) -- with a very few exceptions they are populated by attention seekers.  I would much rather be part of a site which encourages a love of the language in general and allows people to reach their full potential as writers.  Keeping people mediocre is the government's job.

Stephan Anstey
on Apr. 28 2007
As the developer (at least attempted) of a community i can tell you I think this very quandry hits to the heart of the difficulty of my task. For example, right now, there are people looking at the site and then sending me a message that we're 'too advanced' or 'too far above them' or 'too rigorous' or 'too intense' or 'too brutal' -- and i have the choice of encouraging them to join, which often times, I'd love to. Or, letting them opt out without question, with the understanding that someone who feels that way might not fit in well to begin with.

If, by setting higher standards, and expectations i lose members that might have been fringe members anyways, i keep the discourse at a certain level, but lose a lot of the fun of a writing community.

If I lower the standards and expectations, I lose members that might otherwise have been exemplary, or discourage the sort of passion I so madly desire to engender in my friends and acquaintances.

What to do? What to do?





- stephan

Paradiso, Tracey
on Apr. 27 2007

A friend of mine recently said something very wise, something to the effect of, “People are so afraid to exercise ‘judgment’ anymore; the word, the notion, the act has bad connotations. But judgment has its place! People commit heinous acts, people do things that are wrong, and it’s right to stand up and say so. It’s right not to tolerate things that make the world a bad place for us, for our descendants.”

She was obviously talking about exercising judgment in society itself rather than in the arts. But I found her view refreshing.

Having said that, I tend to lean the other way – to looking for what’s good in most things, what I like in a poem (even a “bad” one), what can be polished and shined to make a poem a better poem. This means I have to acknowledge that I think there are bad poems.

Not being well educated in this art form (yet) I don’t know how I’d define a “bad” poem specifically and articulately. Vaguely, I’d define bad poems as the poems that sort of fluff past me, are full of clichés, are clearly “first draft” material, are too much telling and no showing, or that do not stimulate me in any way – in thought, emotion or physical sensation. I’d be interested to hear other definitions of same, of what your standards of poetic quality are.

The line that stuck out for me in this thread is Leanne’s: “There is, however, no poetry that is beyond redemption IF the writer is prepared to work.  Thus it is possible (at a stretch) that there is no bad poetry, only bad poems and bad poets.”

It causes me to ask: Is it me or are a lot of bad poets who write bad poems inordinately sensitive to constructive criticism, and staunchly married to what they’ve created? At least that’s often my experience. The beauty of belonging to a writers’ group or online community is that you can get feedback from a variety of people with different tastes and levels of experience. If nine out of ten people are telling you to go back to the drawing board, chances are you need to improve the quality of the writing.

Is everyone capable of that? I don’t know. Should people who love to write but write crappy poems by your standards or mine be encouraged to write? I don’t think there’s harm in it, in encouraging people to use writing as an outlet for expression. I think poetry communities that believe “there are no bad poems, only different kinds of poetry,” are going to attract the whole gamut of writers from crap to quality, which means their feedback for your work may also range from crap to quality. The question is, do you want to wade in that pool or not? There are other ponds in which to swim.

I know I just wrote in a lopsided circle of sorts. Hope there’s some sense in this somewhere and that if there isn’t, it inspires some from another writer.

 

 


Melden Fred
on Apr. 27 2007
I've considered the motivation for the statement, "There is no bad poetry, only different kinds...etc". To a large extent, I think it's part of the touchy-feely-good cant that has become part of our society, and I also believe part of the reason for our creeping American incompetence. In schools, test-takers get some points just for showing up for the test, and reports get a minimum number of points for just turning in the report, even if it is otherwise awful and inadequate. Bob Dole recently remarked after some disaster or other that we should not be pointing fingers or playing the "blame game", but fixing the problem. Well, what if some turkey IS the problem? Should we not identify him/her as the problem, or do we expect to fix it by skirting around the issue of personal responsibility?
IMO, part of the purpose of saying there is no bad poetry is to encourage the shy and insecure among us who might decide to write. I believe in supporting and encouraging such people in any endeavor, but I do not believe the best way of doing so is to avoid telling them when they've written something poorly. Dishonesty encourages only those insufficiently perceptive to detect insincerity.
Alcuin

Leanne Hanson
on Apr. 27 2007
In the realm of good poetry, there are poems I like and poems I don't like.  It's still obvious, however much I might dislike them, that they are good.  Perhaps other sites may be so determined to capture the attention of those who have no intent to improve or no understanding of their own inadequacy that they may so horribly lie to the world.  Perhaps what they mean to say is: "on this site, there is no good poetry". 

There is, however, no poetry that is beyond redemption IF the writer is prepared to work.  Thus it is possible (at a stretch) that there is no bad poetry, only bad poems and bad poets. 

Stephan Anstey
on Apr. 27 2007
The more i think of this, the more it steams me.



- stephan

Derma Kaput
on Apr. 27 2007
Of course there's bad poetry, I've got a whole computer full of the stuff.  Fortunately, it's really not that difficult to sort out most of the bad and concentrate on the good.  Apparently there are plenty of folks who don't want to hurt feelings, or something.  The flip side of this is that there truly are many different kinds of approaches to poetry and people with limited tastes are more than willing to label something they don't understand as bad when, really, they just don't have a clue about the merits of a particular style.  A wide exposure to brilliant poetry is the best cure for poetic ignorance.
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