Join the Neopoet online poetry workshop and community to improve as a writer, meet fellow poets, and showcase your work. Sign up, submit your poetry, and get started.

Quick Note: Good Poetry Empathizes

After the lenghty essay I posted a few days ago, I want to leave this short note on my thoughts concerning the essence of a good poem.

I’ve struggled to hit the mark for several obvious reasons. Anyone who has been full hardy enough to attempt a generalisation in poetry will be familiar with the backlash.

Even then, I will boldly state, at the risk of hubris, that a good poem is one that can empathise with the reader. This came to me in a brief moment of inspiration, and I must relate to you what I feel is right about poetry.

I’v written poems that have been shallow and plain, and I’v written some that have resonated deeply with the hearts of my readers. Those ellicited the most encouraging response. Some however, judged rather harshly, the spirit of many of those poems, and I understand their stance.

When within a group of supposedly like-minded individuals, non-conformity is a capital sin. I commit it often, because of one principle I hold in all poetry; it must be written for the poet first, then the readership second.

This principle underscores the fact that some level of empathy must exist in a poem to make it “good”, in that sense of the word. The empathy must first start with the poet. It must reflect something within the poet, and must be in conformity with the poet’s spirit, before it will be given that power to truly touch the hearts of the readership. This preserves the individual uniqueness of every poem published.

We may argue then, that a poet cannot explore anything without himself. The true is the same about life and how we perceive it. It cannot be interpreted without the subjective tint of the individual.

When a poets attempts a piece, even on something far removed or generally regarded as objective, there must be an element of the person within the poem when it comes out.

Truth is, this cannot be avoided. The choice of our words are evident even in paraphrased poems; especially in paraphrased poems. Seeing this as a very natural process, it must be embraced fully and used – not exploited – used for the benefit of the poet, her reader, and to the enrichment of the art. Most importantly, it must be used well. The poet must love it first.

Till when we meet again, keep your poems your own, and make them good. No. Better.

Happy New Year!

(c) No copyright is claimed by Neopoet to original member content.