At its worst, poetry is boring, tedious, pompous and trite. But at its best, it makes the candle burn hotter and enriches our conversation with life. (Check out plenty of bad poetry in this issue.)
-- Bob Campbell
Who is the worst poet ever? Rod McKuen. You think he's profound when you're young and inexperienced, but you realize he's trite and schmaltzy once you get a little maturity under your belt.
What's the essence of bad poetry? Poetry is bad when it's esoteric and inaccessible. The poet writes something only he or she can understand. The two extremes of bad poetry are triteness and inaccessibility.
What prompts you to attempt poetry? It's a way of coping, a way to express feelings and, if I'm lucky, generalize them in a way that others recognize as their feelings, too.
Who is your favorite poet? Mark Van Doren. He's understandable and his images convey an intense message.
What makes for good poetry? It's a cathartic bullet -- a short, concise way to perceive common emotions and situations.
Describe bad poetry. Predictability. Triteness. Back-of-the-book answers.
Describe good poetry. It catches you off guard. It creates a possibility for you to experience the world in a way you haven't before.
Describe the poetry you've written at its best. It felt like I didn't write it, like it was written through me.
Who is your favorite poet? Rumi, an 11th-century Sufi poet.
Why does poetry matter? Like all art, it awakens us to a sensual experience of the world and offers new perspectives in seeing and relationship.
Retired CC psychology professor
Who is the worst poet ever? Edgar Guest. I remember a limerick that goes, "I'd rather flunk my Wassermann test than read a poem by Eddie Guest.
What's the essence of bad poetry? Triteness is the worst crime in poetry. Bad poetry also tries to follow conventions, but doesn't make it. Also, I've been to poetry readings where I was embarrassed for the poet. He/she assumed that his or her experience was of value simply because it was his or her experience. It was gushy. It is possible, though, for even bad poetry to be bad in an interesting way.
Why does poetry matter? Good poetry leaves you with understandings you didn't have before -- of a mood, of a place, of relationships.
Who is your favorite poet? T.S. Eliot did things with poetry that I'd never come upon before at the time I first read him -- over 50 years ago now. Also, John Berryman, the poet at the University of Minnesota whom I personally knew.
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