Friday, March 18, 2011

Bad poetry

Over the past few days I've been judging some of the entries of our campus' writing contest.  A variety of genres were accepted, including poetry and essay writing.  It reminded me of a conviction I've held for a while, based on much experience: of all the bad writing out there, bad poetry is the worst.

I'm thinking this applies to all age ranges but I ask you to call to mind teenage and college age people... writing poems... about... pain... lonliness... unrequited love... requited love... sex... trees... parents... dreams...  oh my!

There's an interesting prevalance of rhyme in these types of poems...

One of the things that makes them bad is, well, the lack of art.  They're line-broken-excuses to be dramatic and effusively emotional.  They seem to mean so much to the author, like they're really feeling it and they think you will too.  Or maybe they don't care. In fact, it seems that they think their poems are of the utmost importance by virtue of their having created it.  Often a sense comes through the poems that they think that both they and their 'words' are THE STUFF.

In these amateur verses there's much of the expressing of meaning and emotion and scant little of the actual creating of meaning and emotion in the reader.  Which, finally, brings me to a conclusion: I love good poetry, it’s a marvelous art form.  On top of that I think that everyone should at least dabble in poetry: for themselves, to stretch their imaginations, to provide a place for them to reflect on their own emotions and identity.  I think if more people threw themselves into the writing of poetry the world might just be a proportionally better place... but don’t make me read it.


  1. Someone once referred to typical student poetry (you know - verse that's quintessentially bad; overly emotional; completely lacking in deliberate form, craft, and artistry) "soul vomit." And, boy, do I think that's an apt characterization.

  2. Ohhhhhhhhhhh I feel bad for you! I wouldn't ever be able to judge a contest like that without being so mean! Even though I couldn't write poetry either.

  3. soul vomit... eww that's really gross sounding