The Problem with Poetry

Poetry can be an embarrassing topic. If you like it, you’re considered odd. Yet if a person admits they don’t like it–or most of it–they may be considered uncultured or provincial. Even if you like and read poetry, you may be found guilty of liking the wrong kind of poetry. It’s not the friendliest terrain to navigate.

Yet poetry can be deeply rewarding to just about everyone. And they don’t even need to be reading the right kind, except, of course, the right kind for them, poetry that they can relate to, that speaks in some measure to the life they’ve led, or that tickles their sensitivity to the delights of language, or tickles their funny bone. Poetry has a lot to offer. And it is an important art form which needs to be represented on the shelves of our libraries.

So how is a librarian to choose which volumes of poetry, of the thousands published each year, are a decent match for their patrons? And how does one decide which volumes to cull from the collection? Circulation can be deceptive since a slim volume of poetry can be read within the library.

Since librarians are by definition bookish people, the number who appreciate poetry within the profession is undoubtedly greater than on average. Yet I believe it’s still safe to say that the number of librarians who actively read poetry represent a small percentage.

I’m offering Poetry Log in hopes of making the selection and culling of poetry easier for librarians, whether they’re poetry lovers or people who suffer from a quick bout of suffocation when they slip past the 811s. It’s my intention to be generous, to avoid poetic cliquishness.  I don’t have a deep aversion to either rhyming poetry or free verse. However, I do have standards about what is and isn’t poetry, which I confess are often difficult to explain, and what is good and bad poetry. To get a feel for how I evaluate poetry, watch these blogs as I turn my eye on the collection at my local library. 

Learn more about this project and your reviewer by clicking on the About tab at the top of the page.


About jppoetryreader

Poetry reviewer and poetry consultant for libraries
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One Response to The Problem with Poetry

  1. I see what you mean as a public library is concerned, availiblity is letting all rivers flow. There should be no restrictions to the art. thank you, much appreciated, WS

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