In a return of the "stay-up-'til-4am-for-no-real-reason" days, Kevin and I engaged in a conversation about all sorts of writing, but especially poetry.
I appreciate poetry. I like to write poetry when lightning jolts me to do so. I've been told by multiple professors that my poetry is quite good. But I don't consider myself a poet.
1. I don't bleed over my poems.
2. People can read my poems and know what's going on.
However, someone made the statement yesterday of "I don't believe in genres," and that interested me quite a bit. But that's for another time.
I agree with every teacher/poet who agrees that a poem scrutinizes an image, a moment, an emotion, a notion in the most concise way. I heartily believe that poems do not need to rhyme, and really shouldn't unless 1. they're following a strict form or 2. are just that good.
However, I also strongly believe that a poem must have something real for the reader to grasp. Something beyond words, words, WORDS.
Because when you start abstractly and float farther afield, the reader floats, too. Away from the poem. At that point your audience is other poets who write dense poems and probably don't know what the hell you mean, either, but will be glad to apply their interpretations.
Begin with something we all know or can envision ourselves knowing. Then move into abstractions. Move us with you from known to unknown, from concrete to imagined. From the mundane to the mystical. To those final two lines that make us say, "That's what this is all about."
That said, I think those dense poems do have a place: in the spoken realm. One of my friends writes deep poems that I can't for the life of me understand, but they sure do sound cool with the attention she pays to meter and rhythm. And when she performs them out loud, the words pitch and roll and run. I still don't know what they mean, but I feel them moving.