What Makes a “Good” Poem

The other day, 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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