• Grant Handgis

Poetry and Personal Taste

Most people I know who read poetry have their own preferences, either in choice of poets, or poetry itself, based upon stylistic considerations. Picking a particular poet is much like selecting a wine by label, you know from prior experience that the selected label makes great wine no matter the type. Whether a Chardonnay or Pinot Noir you just know you will like it. It would be hard to argue that selecting a poet is dissimilar. If you like the lines of poetry from a book by Pablo Neruda or Maya Angelou, selecting another book by them usually becomes a no brainer. You are selecting their style, their brand of poetry.

I have named the two above poets because I like their style of poetry in so many ways. And that's just it, there is so much that one gleans from a poem. Form is generally the first quality focused on, as in rhyming, free verse or open verse, couplet, Iambic formats (Tetrameter & Pentameter), Haiku and other forms. Speaking for myself, I have little appreciation for rhyming poetry. That's just me. I have been in too many poetry groups over the years and hear way too many God awful rhyming poetry. The focus of the poem has to do with finding words that rhyme ever other line over dozens of lines. For me that is the fingernails on the chalkboard sound. So slap me.

One can consider the elements of the poem, like meter and style, however there is one element of any poem which for me either makes it accessible, or not. Simply put, the ability of the poet to convey just what it is they are saying with their poem. When you reach the end of a poem, and have no idea what you just read, or any grasp of what the poet was trying to say, what's the point? I have read poems that are so esoteric, so obscure in meaning, I come away wondering what it all meant, what the poet was even trying to say. It's like hearing an inside joke, wondering why it was even funny. That has to do with the double reflective. See, obscure.

I am of course also included in this observation. If my poetry doesn't connect with the reader, if what I am trying to get across isn't understood, then the reader either stops reading or doesn't return for more. The poets I select for posting, in my mind, have polished poems, know what they want to say and make it clear in their poetry. They also have at least one book of their poetry in print, which means they believe in their work and take it to the finish line. That deserves at least being seen and read.

The poems I have selected for the next few posts are from my second collection of poetry, written in the seventies, when I was young, impressionable and on a roll when it came to social issues. I was bothered by so much back then, noticing social injustices and inequalities and had to write lines of poetry in rebellion, which was so much better than going on a social rampage. So I lay bare my poetic thinking and my poetry before the reader in a quest for readability, comprehension and emotional attachment. Time will tell. The reader will do the rating, so set the poems loose.


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