Earlier this weekend one of my friends showed me some of the poetry she enjoys. As we were talking about it she said something along the lines of “I like this poet but I don’t think he writes the kind of poetry you like”. This made me stop and think. Although I had never realized it before, I am indeed a person with a certain taste in poetry. This makes me very happy: I am the kind of person who has read enough poetry to know which styles she enjoys, how cool is that?!

So let’s get right to it:

  • I enjoy poetry with several layers, and find it important that it has hidden depth. However, at the same time I find it important that the poem immediately catches my attention in some way when I first read it. This can be by revealing one of its meanings up front or with a particularly well found phrase, as long as there is something. If there is no incentive from the poem itself, I’m not going to read it again.
  • Upon re-reading the poem a few more times I usually unravel more of its meaning(s) myself but, diligent English student that I am, I don’t mind doing some research either. I find it important that at least some of the poem speaks to me personally,  but I also value other people’s readings as part of the ‘experience’.
  • The poem has to appeal not only to my mind but also to my eardrums. I think I have quite a ‘classic’ idea of what makes a poem sound nice: ingenious rhymes, adept alliterations, effective repetitions or iambic pentameter. I also appreciate it when the line breaks show the speaker’s intonation, but only in so far as that it’s functional or meaningful. I don’t like fridge-poetry where every other word starts on a new line.
  • Lastly, the poem has to ‘build up’ to something. For me, it’s important that a poem isn’t just a collection of clever lines, but also conveys a thought or idea. Therefore, it should contain a climax that rounds off the poem neatly. Hardly anything is as disappointing as a poem that starts well but then trails off at the end without delivering. Like a good joke, a poem needs a punchline!

poetry2

Like any taste, my ideas of what makes a good poem are ever changing and developing. Only one exception has to come round for me to start questioning my little list again and this will probably happen sooner rather than later :).

At the moment, my favourite poets include Wallace Stevens, Dorothy Parker, Carol Ann Duffy and Robert Frost.

Moreover, I would like to add that even though a certain poem may not speak to me, this doesn’t mean that I deem it a bad poem. Just like with novels, I can appreciate a poem for the literary movement it embodies, the context it was written in or what it has meant to other people, without enjoying it for myself.

What do you think? Do you agree with my requirements (if so we probably have the same taste – please link one of your favourite poems below!)? Is there anything you would add? I studied many poems during my degree but we hardly ever discussed anything like developing a personal taste, so I’m very interested in hearing about your favourites.

11 thoughts on “The Kind of Poetry I Like

  1. I agree with you.

    My approach to poetry and music are similar: I have strong favourites but I listen widely, hoping for something new to speak to me. I don’t want my music-clock to stop so that I find myself listening only to the music that excited me when I was young. I want that excitement to evolve and for music to stay important rather than be a nostalgic footnote to my former life.

    I think if you don’t have “a kind of poetry you like” then you aren’t really engaging with the poems.

    If the “kind of poetry you like” never changes, then either you’re both lucky and stable or your taste in poetry hasn’t kept pace with the changes in your life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I completely agree with you! Poetry needs to make me feel something. I need a connection with the speaker- either to love them or loathe them. The poet has to provide me with something to explore whether it be an unusual form, clever wordplay or interesting literary technique. It needs to itch at me otherwise I’ll quickly forget it. Have you read any Sharon Olds? I’m loving her at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! I hadn’t heard of Sharon Olds before but I looked her up and she seems cool, thank you :). Do you have any recommendations for a good poem of hers to start with?

      p.s. I wanted to visit your blog, but it says it has been deleted..?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh no! That’s bizarre. Maybe it is because I deleted my previous one and started another on the same account. Here is my link: https://theastreadiaries.wordpress.com ! I hope you can find it! The first poem I read by Olds was ‘The Pact’. It is heartbreaking but so so powerful. I would definitely recommend a read. I’m also loving Kathleen Raine and Denise Levertov at the moment. Have you read them?

        Like

        1. Oh wow, that is one heavy poem! I’d never heard of Rain or Levertov either but I read a few of their poems and I especially like Denise Levertov. Thank you for these recommendations! I’ll head over to your website now (it works :)) see you there!

          Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.