The Your Voice section of The Poet’s List showcases articles and blog posts written by poets. These pieces may or not be about poetry. Most often, they are on topics with which the poet finds passion. You can find more of these posts, here: Your Voice.
By Robert Peake
The simplest but least useful way to think of poetry is as two types: good or bad. Yet for those willing to look deeper, there is much to be gained from attempting to understand and appreciate the wide and varied landscape of contemporary poetry.
One of the mistakes of the beginning poet is to confuse popularity with quality; one of the mistakes of the journeyman is to confuse their own particular taste with quality. Most mature is to acknowledge the existence of popularity, quality, and one’s own taste as three distinct and independent factors.
This gives rise to not two or three but actually seven different types of poetry, as shown in the following diagram:
Let’s look first at the outer extremes:
Fluff — that which is popular, but you can’t guess why–being neither of high quality nor suited to your taste. These poems are generally dismissed with a, “What is the (poetry) world coming to?” roll of the eyes.
Guilty Pleasures — those poems or poets that are of your particular taste, but which you must acknowledge aren’t exactly of the highest quality, nor are they widely known. Think of the poetic equivalent of a boy band you adored as a tween.
The Arcane — You will come across, from time to time, those works of high quality which are neither your taste nor widely known. They give you pause, if only for a moment of head-scratching.