Poetry has been around since the beginning of time. I doubt that poets in primitive societies were overly concerned with whether their poems were considered academically accepted. They just versified. According to Judson Jerome in Poet’s Handbook, “Anyone can make poetry—and most people do, at least sometimes in their lives. They don’t even have to be able to read and write.”

That said there are certain trends in poetry that we tend to follow. When most Behind the Stacks participants were in elementary school, we learned poetry that rhymed and had a sing-song meter. Yet during that same time, the modern poetry being written was not like that. Modern poetry refers to poetry written between 1890 and 1930 and reflects the literature of the times. Many of the modernist poets have written in non-traditional forms, but they use poetic diction and often with a certain rhythm and tone, but by implementing non-metrical means. Today poets more frequently write modern poetry that is filled with imagery, symbolism, and addresses issues rather than the romantic themes of the 19th century that we studied in grammar school.

As poetry catches up with post-modern thought, there appears to be a synthesis of elements in both pre-modern and modern thought. Some very interesting poetry is being written by amateur poets such as our Behind the Stacks poets. It is no longer considered right or wrong to adhere to the cut and dried rules. Whether what sets poetic juices flowing happens to be a string of phrases or formal rhyme and rhythm, it matters not. What does matter is does the poem work? Kim Addonizio in Ordinary Genius, lists seven qualities of a good poem: 
  • Surprise
  • Music
  • Detail
  • Sufficient thought
  • Syntax
  • Part to whole
  • Mystery
Try writing your poetry with these qualities in mind.