Quality Poetry

How do we know–really–what makes for a good poem?

I have few ideas. Why do I go back to Frank Stanford who had a wonderful power for schemes of variation and precision, like the surface of ice, which is a precise and desperate surface.

We are not the only ones

then they are far away,
Such a distance a cripple
like me Can’t imagine.

POV says the writer has an answer, the reader another. But what if one is a reader and a writer? Part of me says it shouldn’t matter and that the reader should read and go with their gut. I’ve read and taught enough Shakespeare to know when I’m being tricked and when I’m getting the slam. Lear just keeps coming back. I step away from the text shaking my head with wonderment, as I do with Stanford’s.

I’m writing about the experience, not for the school student of poetry who wants to know how to write a sestina.

The poems that I know have a frame of mind, authority over something. They float above the surface, not quite ink, not quite pixels. Better than stone.