What Is A Poem?

Writing Out of the Margins!

     A poem is whatever I, as a writer, persuade you, as a reader, to experience as a poem.
     Some readers are convinced all of the time: they will gush equally over Jack Kerouac and every imitator at the neighborhood open mic, as well as Rod McKuen, Hallmark cards, and at least some advertising copy.
     Some poetry convinces almost everybody: The Twenty-Third Psalm; Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night"; Eugene Field's "The Duel"; some of the classic haiku, don't yell at me if I forgot your favorite just plug it in here yourself.
     Some people will never be convinced by any work unless it is iambic pentameter and rhymes; or it contains a seasonal word; or it refers only to emotion and subjective experience; or it refers only to external, objective experience; or an infinite range of other specific criteria.
     There is more than one kind of poet in the world because there is more than one kind of reader in the world.
     Myself, I am in favor of craftsmanship and working on a poem -- not just spilling my guts on a page and calling it good.
     But I don't think any of the technical criteria in the world will save you if you haven't got any guts in there to begin with. There has to be some heart, soul, insight, or feeling to spark a poem, to make it worth writing and worth reading -- and that is the essence of what reaches up and grabs a reader, what makes someone say, "That's a poem."
     I am content if at least some of the readers in the world respond to me. If twenty people tell me "I can't make head or tails of this", I'll sweat over a re-write. If ten people cry because they did understand me, and ten others are still scratching their heads -- then I know the audience that I speak to.
     I hope it's you.

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Listed by Title (106 current count)
Children's Hour:
Colorado 1999 /
Virginia Tech 2007

There is joy: 
poem for "Uncle Bob" Santos

Thoughts on My Mortality
Wild Horses
Midshipmen of the Heart
Why Hope?
On Wes's Birthday, 2001
December 20, 2000
History in Seattle
When Grownups Dance
Be Small
Mother's Day in the Tents
Mother's Day 2000
Welcome to the Making
Veteran's Day 1996
Pantoum, May 17, 1997
Keeping the Keys
Your many kindnesses
Lacroix's Halloween All-Night Open Mic
Song for Wes
Quantum States of Mary
The Map Is Not the Territory
for Marion
for Michele's Birthday
Mother of Dragons
Mother's Day 1999
The Newt Is Too Much With Us,
... In An Olive
The Emotional Olympics
The World's Desire
Dragon Pending
It's All for Me Web
AFPfilk for habitues of alt.fan.pratchett
If Shakespeare Had PMS
Red Tape Come Again No More
Ricardo, Assault on Edna St. Vincent Millay
Rhiannon Speaks
Dancing With Shadows
Shells & Seeds
Speaking with Hands
In the Small Hours
Winter Solstice
Someday I'll ...
Following Memories
Tonto Muses by the Grave
The Woods Are Not a Metaphor
Seattle Jabberwocky
Another Night Before Christmas
ALF Does Antony (the funeral of the first Urban Rest Stop)
My Heart Is a Wild Horse
Running with the Wolves
The Quantum States of Thunderheart
Cat Notes
What Is Family?
Survival Program
For Karen, May 13, 1999
Easter 1999
Street Music / Street Dreams
I'm Going to Albuquerque
Glimpses of Angels
My Father's Arms
Awakening: contains sexual imagery
Bad Habits, one more alternative version of Pastor Neimoller
Bad Things, a sample of a certain kind of Open Mic poetry. [Satire Warning]
Peter & I at the Ballard Locks
Beltane Fire
Bipolar Does Not Mean I Attract Metal Filings
Black Mary at the Bumberdrums
The Caging
Cute, a sickeningingly sweet sonnet
Down Again! folk singing meets computer frustration
Earth Turns
Fall Equinox
My Grandfather's Eye
Faith, Hope and Charity
Father's Day 1996
Mother Escapes
Fourth of July 1996
Fly Anyway
Your Body Is a Rainforest
for Peter
Bus Stop Poem
A Child's View of Grownups Spoken Word script
He Walked In
The Quality of Insult Is Not Strained
Invisible Lines
Homeless Memorials
How Cute Is Wes
Birthday Card for JJ
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