Reading/Writing Poetry

Does poetry need to be obscure?

I read a large amount of poetry on this site, and many poems I come across are so difficult to decipher. Using vague terms and strange allusions- forcing the reader to either analyze the writing or move on from it.

This poses a question to me.

Is it me, disinterested in the poem or not favoring the style or language presented? Or, is it simply poor writing?

Then, I am faced with another wondering.

I know I come across a number of these posts/poems a day. So, how many people have read one of mine and thought to themselves, “wow that was bad” or have just stopped reading several lines in?

Personally, word choice is a big aspect of poetry to me-more than the actual subject of the piece. If someone crams nothing but academic language, gargon, and “big words” into their poems, I, most likely, won’t enjoy it. Each word serves it’s own purpose. And no two words mean the exact same thing, so I think it is crucial to find the word that precisely suits the tone and emotion of the piece.

As writers, we can be our own worst critcs, but we also know more about our writing than anyone else, so it can be hard determining whether someone outside of our exact realm of knowledge would be able to accurately grasp the concept being expressed throughout our works.

So, I have some general questions:
Is there a particular aspect of poetry you find more important than others?
What do you find the most difficult about writing/reading poetry?

And a more personal one:
Is there something about my poetry that you would suggest I work on or consider changing?

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11 thoughts on “Reading/Writing Poetry

  1. I think the most important poetry is the one of which people choose to express themselves and others can relate/ affect others emotionally and mentally.
    Poetry, at least to me, is like an art. There are different artists around the world and different tastes and certainly different interpretations. With that in mind it’s down to a matter of opinion.

    On a more personal level, your own poetry may never be as good as you want it but the more you do it the better you do it. I don’t like to think that if people stop reading half way through you’d stop writing half way through. There’s not really a right answer to poetry. Just preferences. In my opinion.

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    1. I agree. Different people like different poetry, and no piece will mean the exact same thing to every reader.
      On this site, it -to me at least- seems to be pretty easy to identify those who don’t mean what they say. Their poetry seems to be more of a means of attention rather than an outlet for emotion or thoughts.
      But then again, my perception may be wrong and what they’re writing is just not my taste. It’s hard to tell, really.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Is there a particular aspect of poetry you find more important than others?
    No. Meter, line, form, vocabulary are all important in delineating a poem from other literary forms. Though I find myself more attracted to abstract/experimental uses of meter and line and surreal subject matter coupled with humor.

    What do you find the most difficult about writing/reading poetry?
    Writing – I find it difficult to write something fresh and hard every single time I put something out there. I often fail to meet my own standards of awesome.
    Reading – I find it difficult to read poetry that isn’t very well-considered, but has been spit out on a whim and delivered to me as a reader without any editing or consideration for my time. I’m more forgiving of this in instances where the work is shown in draft stages in an effort to seek criticism and help shape the final piece – but those instances are rare. It makes me sad because often I see some true gems waiting to be dug out.

    Is there something about my poetry that you would suggest I work on or consider changing?
    Not particularly. You have a distinct voice that you should continue to hone and play with. Your work can and should change as you move through life, have new experiences, become exposed to different ways of composition. You should, however, try to write what you consider to be a difficult poem! 🙂 I would not suggest shying away from reading (or writing) difficult poems. A poem should exist on many levels and if your poems or poems you’re reading are understood wholly and completely in one read-through – if they don’t open up to layers of meaning and connections after subsequent readings – I don’t think they’re as strong artistically in the the long-term. This is not to say that by virtue of using vague terms and strange allusions you automatically have composed a masterpiece – some of the greatest poems in English are quite straightforward in their language and structure – but many are also notoriously allusive (not to mention, elusive), requiring a dictionary and lots of reader interpretation to tease out what is going on. FWIW, I think part of what makes poetry what it is, in part, is that it requires more work from a reader than other forms of literature. And – not to say you have to give every difficult piece your time and attention – that shit is valuable – but it seems to me you may be missing out on some of the real magic of poetry if you disregard such out of hand.

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    1. What I’m talking about with reading poetry that is hard to decipher is what you called poetry that hasn’t been “well-considered.” It seems as though they’ve just strung together words that rhyme, that have no real meaning. -but I don’t know if it’s the poem itself that needs work, or the way I’m reading it.
      I love allusive, metaphorical poems. That’s mostly what I write. But there have been a large number on this site that simply seem to make no sense to me at all.
      Also, I do write poems at different difficulty levels. Some straight forward, some elusive that require consideration.
      I’m an analytical person and I always strive to find out the “meaning” of things. It’s just that some of the poems on this site are seemingly impossible to understand.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi blair, I know what you mean. Poetry is very subjective, you can interpret it however you want but only the author can truly know the meaning or what transpired on each writing. Having said that, I do enjoy poetry that I don’t really have to analyse each words they have written and I agree with what Richard said, “write how and what you wanted” it’s your emotion, your creativity whether people read it or not it does not matter because you own it.

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    1. Right, and I’m the same way. I do enjoy metaphorical poems, only as long as I can understand the metaphor. I seem to come across so many that I simply cannot understand.
      And that’s true, as long as it means something to the writer and serves their purpose, other people don’t really matter.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for the great post. Don’t be afraid not to like something, just because you’re supposed to be wowed by it, are told it’s really avant-garde, sprinkled with the assumption that you’re just too dull or inexperienced to appreciate its brilliance. Writing should communicate effectively, no matter what type of piece it is. You can only write about what you know from your perspective in the way that you alone are capable of. And of course based on your experience for the length of time you’ve been around. From that point of view there is no “good” or “bad”, just you. Most of all be yourself. You can certainly tell when someone else isn’t being genuine in their writing because it’s obvious. I am an editor and I was sent a book to review recently, a translation of Dimitris Lyacos’ “With the people from the bridge” and maybe I’m just a dullard but I could not relate at all to anything that was presented. I was told how wonderful and amazing it was but honestly, sitting in my tub reading it again and again, I couldn’t appreciate it. I couldn’t connect with it. I did the old battle of “it must be my fault if I don’t get it” but today I free enough to realize that it wasn’t me, and that I didn’t have to like everything I read. If you ever want me to give you some feedback on a piece let me know. Thanks. Gordon

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    1. Thank you. That is exactly how I feel sometimes. If I see a blogger with tons of followers, a bunch of likes and comments, and I read their work and just cannot bring myself to appreciate it, I feel as if it’s my fault -that I’m either not reading it right or I’m too dumb to understand. But I need to stop thinking that way.
      However, I do think that there are many people posting things that aren’t quite exemplary, simply in hopes to receive adulation and admiration. So, I try to not beat myself up over not enjoying a piece, because it may not be something I would naturally have any sort of connection to. Or, it is something that no one really would have a connection to since it is, as jdoublep said, not well-considered.
      Thank you for your comment and insight. I appreciate any feedback I can get- good and bad- I’m here to grow more than anything. So if you ever come across something I write that you either love or think is the absolute worst thing you’ve ever seen, please let me know. It would really mean a lot. 🙂

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