When is poetry considered bad?

It’s difficult for a lot of people to judge whether or not poetry is good for several reasons. First of all, art can be subjective. One man’s ramblings can be a poet laureate’s Pulitzer winning entry. Also, the person reading the poem may not have enough exposure to poetry that they cannot decide on a verdict. According to comparative literature student John Eilermann, there are some basic rules when it comes to poetry writing which helps students gauge the integrity of a poem.

Image source: pinterest.com

A basic indicator of a bad poem is its grammar. If there are lapses in grammar that are not warranted or deliberate, then it becomes less effective. For example, a piece that has inconsistent tenses can obscure the reader’s understanding of the poem.

Another common mistake that can make a poem read and sound awful is the use of hifalutin words in the wrong context. A lot of writers tend to use big words in order to sound literary. However, the effectiveness of the words comes to play. The words may sound big, but they could end up sounding terrible. The choice of words is crucial in poetry given its very limited form.

Punctuation is also important when it comes to poetry. While some poems do well without much punctuations, this could mean that the poet has mastered or has a good grasp of line cuts. If a novice writer creates a piece without proper punctuations, it would be difficult to read the poem as a reader wouldn’t know when a thought starts or ends.

Image source: rethink-business.com

Lastly, there’s the readability of a poem. One of poetry’s main features is clarity. According to John Eilermann, a poem that is vague all throughout the read or if it’s too obviously simple to a point that it doesn’t evoke a sense of thought can easily lose the interest of the reader.

John Eilermann from St. Louis, Missouri, is currently in college pursuing a degree in Comparative Literature. Growing up, he read books by Nick Hornby, Roald Dahl, C.S Lewis, and many others. To know more about John, visit this website.


The differences between free verse and metrical poetry

There was a time when poetry was all done in a highly formal and versified manner. For the layman, this means that poems used to all have end rhymes and a pattern of syllable count. You might remember doing such poetry exercises in elementary school, and indeed it’s still the case for many songs. But it’s been centuries since Shakespeare made his sonnets, and now the dominant mode in this literary endeavor is called free verse, explains St. Louis-based comparative literature student John Eilermann.

Image source: bbc.com

But what exactly makes free verse different from formal or rhyme-and-meter poems? Firstly, the movement toward vers libre or free verse originated in France in the late 1800s and caught on in English works at the start of the 20th century. Unlike formal poems like the sonnet, sestina, and the villanelle, free verse espousers opted to let go of the restrictions of meter and rhyme (particularly end rhyming), preferring instead the value of sense, sound, and, linguistically speaking, rhythm created by changes in syntax.

While formal poetry continues to endure, most contemporary poets experiment more with the possibilities of free verse. It’s important to note though that, despite its name, free verse is not really free: many will argue that writing it is much more challenging and outright difficult as it banks on an intertwining of sense and heightened diction without compromising the inherent sound that every poem has.

Image source: airshipdaily.com

Free verse’s impact on literature is such that it’s very hard nowadays to win poetry awards or even get published if a new writer is stuck with formal or metrical poems. There are exceptions, of course, but over the decades metrical verse has become highly specialized and perhaps even harder to write, adds John Eilermann. In other words, it’s easy to deem it as “archaic” writing, making it easier for poetry editors to distinguish the uninitiated from seasoned poets.

St. Louis, Missouri-based student John Eilermann is currently in college pursuing a degree in Comparative Literature. Some of his favorite writers are Roald Dahl, C.S Lewis, Ned Vizzini, and Jonathan Franzen. For more on John and his interests, click this link.