The Poetry Police

Angela Topping

There has been something of a controversy recently in the poetry goldfish bowl. I don’t want to get into the McNish versus Watts debate, because I can see both sides, but from a range of comments on the offending article in P.N.Review, an interesting discussion has been going on about what the ‘rules’ or conventions of poetry are. There are people who feel only poems which rhyme can be called poems. Others extol the virtues of punctuation, learning about scansion and metre, and being well versed in the reading of poetry by other people. This is the debate that constantly rumbles on. What IS poetry?

A poem is not defined by the toolbox it uses. A different poem by the same poet might be conventional, with rhyming, scanning quatrains, or it might be loose, open field, intertexual, or anything at all. For my money, I let the poem get involved…

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