What Makes a Good Poem? – by Melissa Donovan…

on Writing Forward:

In the world of art and entertainment, everything is subjective. Millions of fans loved that blockbuster film that dominated theaters last year, but maybe you found it lacking in substance. Maybe some of the great works of literature you were forced to read in school left you wondering why they were considered important enough to be included in the curriculum. Maybe that song that your best friend plays over and over causes you nothing but agitation.

Poetry is no different. You might work your way through dozens of poems before you find one that speaks to you. And your favorite poem might be dismissed by your writer friends as campy or dull.

You can’t please everyone. No matter how great a poem is, someone, somewhere is going to hate it. That doesn’t mean the poem is good or bad; it just means it doesn’t appeal to everyone’s taste.

Taste is subjective. But there are some elements of poetry writing that are objective; we can assess a work of poetry (or any work of art, for that matter) while separating our personal tastes and preferences from our objective understanding of what makes a good poem.

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