What is poetry?

There are many who like poetry and there may be more who don’t. It is an acquired taste. Poetry is becoming more accessible though and therefore, perhaps, more popular as a genre.

I haunted the internet via Google Search and discovered  some definitions of what poetry might be. You will see that there isn’t necessarily disagreement among the definitions.




noun: poetry; plural noun: poetries

  • literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style and rhythm; poems collectively or as a genre of literature.”


“Poetry is the chiseled marble of language; it’s a paint-spattered canvas – but the poet uses words instead of paint, and the canvas is you. Poetic definitions of poetry kind of spiral in on themselves, however, like a dog eating itself from the tail up.”

Mark Flanagan – Contemporary Literature Expert


“The last thing to say about poetry is that it doesn’t like to be pinned down. That’s why there’s no single definition that fits all of the things that we would call “poems.” Just when you think you have poetry cornered, and you’re ready to define it as literature broken into lines, it breaks free and shouts, “Aha! You forgot about the prose poem, which doesn’t have any verses!” Drats! Fortunately, we get the last laugh, because we can enjoy and recognize poems even without a perfect definition of what poetry is.”


From two famous poets :

What is Poetry?

A poem may appear to mean very different things

to different readers, and all of these meanings

may be different from what the author thought he

meant. For instance, the author may have been

writing some peculiar personal experience, which

he saw quite unrelated to anything outside; yet

for the reader the poem may become the expression

of a general situation, as well as of some

private experience of his own. The reader’s

interpretation may differ from the author’s and

be equally valid– it may even be better. There

may be much more in a poem than the author was

aware of. The different interpretations may all

be partial formulations of one thing; the

ambiguities may be due to the fact that the poem

means more, not less, than ordinary speech can


  T.S. Eliot

What is a Poet?


A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses

his feelings through words.

This may sound easy. It isn’t.

A lot of people think or believe or know they

feel — but that’s thinking or believing or

knowing; not feeling. and poetry is feeling —

not knowing or believing or thinking.

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe

or know, but not a single human being can be

taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think

or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other

people; but the moment you feel, you’re


e.e. cummings

(taken from Fire and Ice, ed. R.J. McMaster. Toronto: Longmans, 1970.)

What comes to my mind from all of these is that poetry is not easily defined.

“beauty is in the eye of the beholder”

I’ll leave you with some web sites you may enjoy visiting and possibly form your own opinion.

Until next time



The Tattoo Parlour – Natasha Head

Confessions of a Laundry Goddess – Susie Clevenger

George Elliott Clarke

Anthony Wilson

Jae Rose

Poesy plus Polemics – Paul F. Lenzi







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