What Makes a “Good” Poem

A couple months back…

After posting my winners of the End of Summer Poetry Contest, I was speaking with another blogger who asked me,

“What makes a poem good?”

Only five words long, five simple words in fact, and yet this is an extremely, insanely complex question according to most poetry “experts.” Two summers ago, I took a poetry-focused graduate college class. During this course, I was assigned and read several articles on what makes “good poetry.” These articles dealt with questions such as:

  • Should poetry be a specific form?
  • Should it rhyme?
  • Should it have certain syllables per line?
  • Should it have a certain amount of lines or stanzas?
  • Is free verse (perhaps the most popular form of poetry) a form of poetry at all?

There are literally hundreds of thousands of questions and opinions circling poetry, particularly on what makes quality poetry. Just type in “What makes poetry good?” and before you know it, you will be sucked down the rabbit hole.

So, before you fall down too deep into that vortex of confusing judgments, I’m going to offer my opinion and break it down into five simple statements:

Good Poetry:

  1. Can be in any form! Every form was invented and new forms can still be invented by involving old forms.
  2. Should use creative (but not obnoxious) diction. Figurative Language is fun!
  3. Should emotionally appeal or relate to the reader.
  4. Can captivate your readers with a story or imagery
  5. Should “Mic Drop” last line; leave your reader with something memorable!

Now, I realize that my opinion is just one of many, so take it or leave it but remember that poetry is always evolving.

What do you think of my five rules?

What would you add or take away from my list?

Happy Writing Everyone!


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40 thoughts on “What Makes a “Good” Poem”

  1. Like the question…. what makes good music, I would say a good rhythm that mimics a fast or slow heartbeat, and then personal preference plays a huge part. Art is so very varied and, may I say wonderful for the mere fact it is an individual “voice”.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Good advice, KaylaAnn. I like the “Mic Drop” idea. Haiku is my favorite form of poetry and I like the challenge of getting a message across in the 5-7-5 structure of the haiku. One of my favorite haiku writers is Bette Stevens. She is in your comments and a published author.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It might go without saying, but I think poetry has to be human. Poetry is not a manual to build a desk or a computer, it’s a small prism of a prism that attempts to put into words a small piece of the human experience. That’s my two thoughts late in the evening anyway.

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  4. These are good, but reader appeal is tricky. My poems come out disturbing, so can complexity and contrary meanings have appeal? Such is true with originality. We want it, but too much can alienate a reader, I suppose.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. But perhaps there are readers out there that find the appeal in the disturbing? Perhaps your poetry belongs to a specific audience instead of a wide variety (and there’s nothing wrong with that) but if absolutely no one can appreciate your poetry, then maybe it needs revamping.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A good poem. Oh, that is my poem LOL. But I define poetry as soul searching done beautifully on paper. For every poem is good it is just searching for the apt reader. Still we need to separate wheat from chaff. Good poems can’t be defined yet we will recognise when we come across them.

    Liked by 2 people

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