To clarify my original point:
I personally agree that poetry is most interesting when I have something to think about.
But that doesn't sell. Most people become disinterested when they are asked to think- they are too lazy or too socially conditioned against it, or simply prefer not to... it's easy to see this in the number of pop music albums and chicken soup for the [insert adjective/walk of life] soul books that are sold.
Hopefully that was more clear and succinct.
Okay, to your second point:
'first let’s get clear what we’re talking about here.
Not social issues, not history, not a commentary
and not a closing statement by a lawyer!'
Isn't poetry about all the topics you have above? Social issues, history (not just on a wide scale, also the history of one's life)- isn't poetry just another medium with which to offer a commentary on any of the endless experiences of life?
Ugh... I hate concept words, but you made me do it. Specifically- isn't a love poem a commentary on life? Isn't a poem about racism a commentary on a social issue? And so on...
'Poetry is words.'
Here, I would very strongly disagree with you. If poetry is words, then bathroom grafitti used as an anonymous namecalling forum is poetry. The crime reports are poetry. The UBB/HTML notifications next to the Reply to Topic screen are poetry. My reply is poetry.
If you were using the logic that everything is poetry, I'd still disagree with you, but at least you would have a solid point. But next you say:
'Every word in poetry must work.
Poetry must be distilled to be fine poetry.
Not cluttered with a lot of garbage and unneccessary cliches that have no job to do and do nothing but take up space on the page '
Here you expand (or refine) your definition- you become more specific.... but at the same time, more vague. You assume that your idea of a cliche is the same as mine... and yes, I realize that might sound like the defense of an inexperienced (bad?) poet to the criticism of a more experienced (better?) poet.
You narrow down your criteria... but aren't 'garbage' and 'cliche' overused words that don't really tell us anything specific, that just take up space and leave us with a vague notion of what you mean?
'Poetry is a craft. '
What do you mean by craft? If your explanation of poetry is vague, how am I supposed to know what you really think is good or bad? These are just catchphrases. Do you mean words are a craft? Who crafts them? Most poets use mostly pre-established words in their poems... although there are a few exceptions.
'I think I will sort the mail into
baskets and leave those on the desk.”
this is an idea and gives no picture at all to the reader, nothing but an idea, and no description, no imagery. The metaphor isn't even really there, but maybe faintly'
I disagree. There is a picture- it's in the wording- since the wording is stiff, dry, cold, and precise, I am assuming the setting is the same.
'a poem is more like this….(sorry it's horrid but I didn't put much into it! just trying to make a point)
Oval and round they were
on a cherry bureau
wicker and braided, orderly,
awaiting the morning mail.'
I disagree again. A poem you like more is one like this. You can't justify the inclusion and exclusion of certain words groupings as poetry and not poetry based on personal taste to anyone but yourself. That's fine that you feel that way... but you are presenting a point (a poorly argued one) to anyone in this forum.... and I think that your definition of poetry is a bit biased.
Anyway, I liked the first example better. It sounds less pretentious.
kevin- I agree about communication being a major fault... but I don;t think it's always a lack thereof... sometimes its that there is too much, and the reader gets hit on the head with the ideas... other times it's that we know exactly what an author means because we've heard it so many times before.
Also- the show don't tell arguement... okay in theory... good beginning advice... but for those who see it as a purely image-based idea can rephrase it into this (somethine I use when i write)
Show by the way that you tell.
I eat only sleep and air -Nicole Blackman