Lots of people call themselves poets, and a few of them are on dating sites; they send me their poems. They might send doggerel which makes me sigh, or they may have lack-lustre vocabulary which just makes me uncomfortable. These poems are sometimes forgettable and sometime cringe-making, but not often as profound as their writers seem to think they are.
Occasionally the poems I read are powerful and poignant. They tell me about something or someone significant, and it matters. I delight in those moments. Sometimes, though, someone sends me a poem that I am not sure about. How am I to tell if a poem is “good” or not? It bewilders me when I come across poetry that leaves me wondering if it has value. I can be moved by something awful just as easily as I can be numbed by something great.
Some poetry makes me think, or care, or cry, but other poetry leaves me confused or feeling nothing. If someone writes about something very meaningful, in tender language, with careful diction that leaves me cold, is it still poetry? What if I read something important, phrased beautifully, but I don’t care?
We are on our own when it comes to taste. It would be comforting to know whether or not I have a sophisticated appreciation of poetry, but when I read I am alone with my thoughts. The only acquired wisdom is my own, and that’s all that matters at that time. When I give a response to a poet, that is all I have to go on.
I hope they aren’t expecting more.
Image source: http://www.rebelbuddha.com/create/rebel-poetry/