What is the Best Type of Poetry?

I’m picking up on the Friday poet’s inbox series, only today’s question is not inspired by e-mail question. Rather, it’s inspired by claims and attitudes I’ve seen online and in person about what type of poetry is the best.

I’ve seen this attitude expressed in many different ways. The most common is for Poet X to claim that Poetry X is the best kind of poetry, and that Poetry Y and Z are not up to snuff. Or a poet may question why rhyming poetry doesn’t seem to get published as much as free verse. Or free verse poets take on both traditional forms and prose poets.

But I’m going to phrase it as a question, “What is the best type of poetry?”

*****

Recreating_Poetry_Revise_PoemsRe-create Your Poetry!

Revision doesn’t have to be a chore–something that should be done after the excitement of composing the first draft. Rather, it’s an extension of the creation process!

In the 48-minute tutorial video Re-creating Poetry: How to Revise Poems, poets will be inspired with several ways to re-create their poems with the help of seven revision filters that they can turn to again and again.

Click to continue.

*****

What is the Best Type of Poetry?

The answer is, yes.

Yes, poetry is the best type of poetry. The strength of poetry is not found in a slice of a slice of a slice. The strength of poetry is not found in a specialized nook and/or cranny of the poetisphere. No, poetry’s strength is it’s gigantism.

Poetry’s strength is that one stage can hold a haiku master, sonneteer, slam champion, experimental language poet, lyricist, free verse storyteller, prose poet, blackout erasurist, French form rhymer, and still have room for a variety of other poets.

In Section 51 of Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” the poet seems to speak for poetry:

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Poetry can often contradict itself; poetry is large; poetry contains multitudes; and that is the strength of poetry.

The Best Sort of Poem

What is the best sort of poem then? Is it all good to everyone? Of course not. What appeals to one poet will not matter to another poet, but that doesn’t mean it’s not all valid. (Knee braces aren’t for everyone, but they’re invaluable to those who need them.)

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 4.42.11 PMOn Twitter yesterday, I made the off-hand tweet that the best sort of poem is the one you write. And I do believe that’s partially true. Writing poetry often helps the writer as much (or more) than the reader. But it’s not the whole truth.

The best sort of poem is the one that makes you feel. It could be a haiku, a sestina, or a slam performance. It could be a poem you’ve read or heard; it could be a poem you’ve written. It could be a poem that tells a tale, a poem that makes little sense (but arouses the senses), a poem that breaks lines, or a poem that doesn’t.

My sincere hope is that everyone is able to experience the best sort of poems, whether they’re reading or writing them (or, of course, both).

*****

roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community, which means he maintains this blog, edits a couple Market Books (Poet’s Market and Writer’s Market), writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine, leads online education, speaks around the country on publishing and poetry, and a lot of other fun writing-related stuff.

He loves the variety that poetry offers, but he’s not a big fan of poets breaking into poetic gangs that try to put down one form of poetry in favor of their own. He is also the author of Solving the World’s Problems.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

*****

Find more poetic posts here:

 

You might also like:

  • No Related Posts

13 thoughts on “What is the Best Type of Poetry?

  1. Shennon

    Most of the time I refrain from bowing to poetic forms. In much the same way, most of the time I refrain from putting titles on my poems. I prefer to write what sounds right and feels right to me, letting others interpret as they will. Maybe that makes me a sort of rebel poet?

  2. Walt Wojtanik

    I tend to write “in the moment” and depending what mood I’m in and how expressive I feel, I can range from Haiku to Sestina. I guess I go with how full of it I am at that point in time (Inspiration, that is). I write rhyme, but don’t need to. Any form, any style, any time or any where. The best poetry is the piece I’m writing right now! I’d like to get back to expressing to excess; I had fallen off of late (Life has that way.)

  3. lionetravail

    I actually thought of an answer to this question as an unrelated exercise this past weekend. It began with the following thought:

    If one were to compose a program using the correct language and then input it a computer will follow those directions until the instructions, or a response to them, is complete.

    Next, substitute the words “poem” for program and “brain” for computer, and see where that leads…

    In that context, the “best poem” is one that works on the operating system of the reader/listener’s mind to elicit a response, whether to kindle a memory, to provoke a fresh thought or new idea, to elicit a feeling, or whatever reaction is sought.

  4. drnurit

    Thank you, Robert, for this enlightening post! I so agree: “The best sort of poem is the one that makes you feel.“ For me, a good poem is one that offers a sliver of another’s mind. Like a bridge, it takes me somewhere special – both new and familiar, reminding me of the ties that bind. It makes me feel, think, imagine… It stays with me – a small gift creatively packaged… Nurit Israeli

  5. drnurit

    Thank you, Robert, for this enlightening post! I so agree: “The best sort of poem is the one that makes you feel.“ For me, a good poem is one that offers a sliver of another’s mind. Like a bridge, it takes me somewhere special – both new and familiar, reminding me of the ties that bind. It makes me feel, think, imagine… It stays with me – a small gift creatively packaged… Nurit Israeli

  6. summersetsun

    All true.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that it’s a great outlet for laying down your non prose affections. The result: your prose becomes more prose and less likely to have verse creep into it – which eventually has to be cut out latter.

    So, whenever I notice my prose becoming poetic, I stop right there and open my poem pages document and pore out a poem related to that part of the story. Once finished I notice the prose thereafter seem less verse-like at least for a short time before the process starts again.

  7. anmolvachan

    Hello Robert,
    I started writing poetry few years ago, and some of them are pretty famous between children, it gives so happiness to see, when people recite your poetry. Now I am trying to refine my poems with the experience of other poets and people like you. Your this post helped me to understand how can I make it better. Thank you!

  8. cbwentworth

    Wonderful post! I tend to gravitate towards haiku as a poet, but I often find myself wandering into different categories. When I first started writing poetry, I worried that I was doing it incorrectly. What if my syllable count was off or I didn’t rhyme or I used a literary technique that’s frowned upon. Then, I realized poetry isn’t that picky. With so many forms and “un” forms out there, there really is no wrong or right way to turn words into what can only be described as magic.

COMMENT