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THE PERFECT POEM

Hi Michael:  Your request for the”perfect” poem is a quixotic exercise in futility.  A “perfect” poem by its very nature would be perfect for everybody which is an impossibility which not even a court of poetry law could enforce. Let’s consider a reasonable definition of poetry. Poetry is the craft of writing which creates the work of art called poem.  That seems to me (but maybe not to you) to be a just explanation and description of the term ”poetry’.   Now you reach the question of just what is a “poem”.  I consider (but maybe you don’t) all “poems” to be literary structures with a beginning, a middle, and an end expressed or implied.  If you write a beginning but have not expressed or implied a  middle or end, or if you write a middle, and have not expressed or implied  a beginning or end, or if you write an end and have not expressed or implied a beginning or middle, you have not written a “poem”.  You have written a “fragment” which frags the mind of the reader expecting much more than that what the writer has presented. (99.99 % of the writing submitted to TGAPS are “fragments”.)  Now let’s say you have a piece of writing which has a BME (beginning middle end) expressed or implied.  Would just having a BME make the piece of writing a “poem”? In my definition of poetry I described a poem as a work of art. Now I’ve come to the basic quandary of all aesthetics.  Just what is “art”?  Is art any aesthetic creation just the artist or anybody else or both simply “likes’? Or is art an aesthetic creation that can only be judged as “art” by conventional aesthetic standards of paradigms (whatever they may be) created by contemporary artists, by aesthetic standards of dead artists and critics, or by a private court of critical opinion of self-appointed contemporary critics?  Pick one.  As an editor and publisher, I judge writing objectively and subjectively.  Subjectively, if I enjoy (for whatever reason) reading a piece of writing, I “like” it.  Does liking a piece of writing make it “poetry”, “poem” or “art”?  I do not think so although others might vehemently disagree with my opinion.  Objectively, (whether I like the piece of writing or not) if I consider the writing ”poetry” which, by my definition, creates a “poem”,  I will consider publishing the piece of writing.  Usually though, if I don’t like the piece of writing, I probably will not publish it although I have published “poems” I did not like but which I thought were just too eloquent to reject. I think that if an editor reads a piece of writing objectively and subjectively hoping to find the “perfect” poem for all poetry readers, that editor is a perfect example of the “Peter Principle” which says that most persons or maybe even all eventually arrive (by promotion or otherwise) to positions they are incompetent to perform (which might even include myself as editor and publisher of TGAPS). Most people who rarely read poetry after graduating from school would say that if a piece of writing is not written in stanzas with rhyming lines, then that piece of writing is not a “POEM”.  They are right because it does not represent a certain kind of poetry writing they were taught, but they are wrong because “poetry” and “poem” have evolved way past their shuttered view. Now after all of this chitchat (maybe flimflam chitchat), have I PRECISELY ACCURATELY EXACTLY SPECIFICALLY AND SCIENTIFICALLLY defined what a “poem” is? NO NO NO AND NO ONCE AGAIN. This is the essential conundrum of the ‘po’biz’. I know a poem when see it and I understand its structure when I analyze it, but I have no idea how to define “POEM” as I have defined “POETRY”.  I think this applies to all “ART”. LZ

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