For many readers, poetry can seem daunting, freighted with mistaken notions taught long ago by well-meaning but misguided English teachers: that what a poem says and what a poem means are always two different things, and it’s up to the reader to puzzle out the actual meaning; and that true poetry is an “elevated” art, and only the intellectually gifted are able to “get” the hidden meanings.

The truth is, there are as many kinds of poetry as there are poets: its inclusiveness is one of poetry’s defining characteristics.

Attention to the sounds of the words is another hallmark, as is compression: the ability to say the most with the fewest words. And traditionally, poetry has been the written art that most directly aims to connect the head with the heart, to use words to evoke emotion. All the technical finesse in the world is for naught in a poem that fails to connect with its reader, or listener, in this important way.

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The Spokesman-Review

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