There is a whole long list of things that I came up with, a while back when I was writing my undergrad thesis, about what is and is not a poem, what makes or undermines a poet, how to better craft a piece without losing the human touch that defines poetry. On that list, which I won’t bore you with now, is a consideration of saturated emotional connection with a subject, and whether that can be a poem…
For example… is a poem about a teenage breakup really a poem if it is just a means of getting emotions out… are those emotions poetry if they are vague and cliche and singular in their appeal. Is that in the same league as a Rita Dove poem?
Now, some poems are more successful than others… but I found that, often, what was shown as a poem was not really a work or art and rather a work of self.
This poem borderlines on that… as often my grief poems do. With this piece, written shortly after a personal tragedy, I find that the art ideals of the poem are lost to the personal anguish.
Personal poetry becomes an issue when it’s more about the moment than the poem’s overall effect. A poem, while it may or may not need a ‘reader’, must exist outside the poet’s personal experience. We are not writing monologues.
For me, the answer for this poem is a swift, harsh critique of the effective and ineffective elements. Where I ramble or throw in filler words, I need to remove myself from the situation and examine the piece as a work of art rather than a work of mine.
With that harshness, I can see that a poem for a friend comes off too intimate. That can be rectified easily with some more platonic verbiage. What might have been the intention before appears foolish and simple with a little hindsight.
Write poetry any and every time the moos strikes. But remember that what comes out looking like a poem might not be one. Especially if there is no Truth in it rather than personal truth. Poetry is that special art that needs more than just a jumble of words and sounds to mean something… it needs conviction and greatness. While love, hate, grief or joy can be Truth, they do not guarantee greatness… remember that a poem must be more than what it means personally to the poet.