What is poetry? Dictionary.com says:
the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts.
literary work in metrical form; verse.
Both are quite lacking. Wikipedia is a little more accurate, seeing as they have an entire page to explain. The most incite that they show is that many reject defining it all. The biggest problem with the two above definitions is that poetry isn’t really always rhythmical or metrical. Some want to define poetry simply as whatever a poet does. Others still say a poem is a certain thing, but “poet” is merely a meaningless label.
Merriam-Webster.com defines it:
writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm
This is getting closer, perhaps, to what poetry is, but I think the and before rhythm should be more of an “and/or.” Some would even make “writing” itself to be optional in a poem, Such as a photographic poem. Check out Liza Ryan. However, rhyme and verse certainly aren’t dead — see Steve Gehrke in Poetry Magazine versing it up. The end result is far from sing-songy or nursery-rhyme like as some complain of verse.
How would I define Poetry? An artfully crafted expression, often in words and sometimes metrical or rhyming, which is meant to appeal to its audience in both an intellectual and emotional way. But, maybe somebody could question this, too — only a definition of the poetry I like.
I’d love to hear how others define it. Anybody disagree or agree with my or the others’ definitions? Have a definition of your own? Leave a comment!