Questions for Poetry

What is a poem? Is it heightened language? When is a poem not a poem? When it is prose? What if poetry and prose can be one? Does verse still have merit in ultramodernity? Does poetry have merit? Is beauty attainable? Is beauty taken to be the inherent goal of poetry? Can something be beautiful and anti-beautiful? Is poetry refined streams of consciousness?

            What is the voice in poetry? Is it plural? Does a poem stand on its own? Or does it co-operate and form a wider collection of text? Is it useful to question poetry? Is a poem for me or for you?

            Does a poem have to constitute cohesive language? Can it possess narrative? Is this a short story on fast forward? Does a poem have characters? Or setting?

            Is a poem airing one’s dirty laundry? Is it airing someone else’s? Should poetry be therapy or a diary or neither? Does one write poetry to uplift or undermine the art?

            Can a poem contain positive substance? Does anger come across in poetry? Should an overall emotion be clear? Does poetry ask anything or does it answer something?

            If a poem incorporates sound does it become music? Doesn’t poetry inherently incorporate sound? Would a series of pictures qualify as poetry? When is somebody a poet?

            Who is the poet and who is the voice? If you have to imagine, would a cat or a dog be more likely to read poetry? What about write it? When is the best time to write? In the morning? At noon? After supper? In the dead of night?

            Does poetry come out fresh on the page as concise and refined text or does it start life as a probing mass? Is poetry better when it is shorter or longer?

            Can a poem convey the season without mentioning it by name? What does it mean to be timeless? Or is everything only of its time? Is poetry of the bourgeoisie or is it in the contemporary moment classless?

            Is a poem over at the final line or does its indentation in our minds prolong its life? Which words belong to whom? Is it okay to borrow? Do you discern this from stealing?

            If a poem can be a declaration of love or an attempt at seduction can it also act as an apology? Can a poem inspire revolution? Is it better suited to stuff the neck of a petrol bomb? When is erotic poetry effective?

            Is it better to adhere to known form or to attempt utter newness? Is new possible after modernity? Should you write drunk and edit sober or never start drinking and never stop writing? Can writing produce pleasure akin to alcohol?

            Is a poem more like a Moscow Mule or a pint of bitter? Does ekphrasis illuminate the original piece of art? Can one commodify the poem? Does commercial poetry exist? Is this agreeable or objectionable?

            Is it rewarding to see a relative or a stranger cry reading your poetry? Do you show your poetry or keep it your dirty little secret? Does it matter if a poem is conceived on paper, phone, or computer?

            What is the relationship between poetry and philosophy if any at all? If one wanted to write poetry should one also write in conjunction a novel? If a novelist writes poetry would it undermine the poet? If one is a novelist and a poet is one a writer?

            Is poetry an exercise in thought? Is it necessary to play with language? Is it possible to un-play with language? Should poetry possess moral character? How much poetry should a poet read?

            How do you justify the imagery deployed in poetry? Does inconsistency work? Is purposefully confounding the reader clever or annoying or elitist? Is there an end to poetry? Would it be with a bang or with a whimper? If poetry meets its end has humanity gone the same way?


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