My Poetic Path

My journey…shared in poems, prose and photos.

What Makes a Poem: Great,So-So…or just plain BAD?


I’ve been giving this question/topic a lot of thought recently, reading all kinds of poetry, written by various poets. Some classics, some new, some good, some ok, some IMHO just plain bad.

First of all, what are your thoughts on this winning poem from a recent Writer’s Digest competition?

I received this collection in the mail recently. Yes, I did have an entry in this contest that didn’t win. No, I am not a “sore” loser but I’ve got to ask, is this 1st Prize poem a winner, in your opinion? The word that came to mind for me was: “shocked”. I was actually shocked by what work had been chosen as the best from what was  probably 1000’s of entries.

I really would like to know if this is “just me”. What do you think? Please stop by WD via the link above and do leave a comment here if you can!

On to a more positive poetry experience….

I also recently received a poetry book from my blog friend Sandy Carlson. Her collection: Seventeen Park Lane is just wonderful. I was blown away by so many of the poems. Touching, evocative, well-written….I enjoyed every poem and have re-read many again and again.


Here are two examples of Sandy’s beautiful work from this collection:



Every summer, does lead their fawns

To dad’s patch of day lilies

Before the buds bloom

And they eat them,

Leaving dad

Humbled with headless stems

Dad curses the deer,

Though they are gone

When he shouts at  the phantoms

It is his custom

To curse as he cuts

The headless stems

Though he knows

They will grow again

And again.

There is love

In this dialogue

And expectations fulfilled.



Daffodils stoop in April snow.

Snow will melt.

Crows darken treetops with harsh songs.

Songs bring dawn.

Violets nod to the morning sun.

The sun rises.

Robins sing to morning light.

Light grows warm.

Worms press life into hard earth.

Earth hears God.


Yes, yes, yes….this is what I think poetry should be all about!

Memories re-visited, ideas explored, lines carefully crafted. The real deal. Words and emotions that resonate with the reader. 

 If you’d like to order a copy of this wonderful collection visit: Seventeen Park Lane.

So, back to you. In your opinion, what make a poem memorable and meaningful? What does it take to make a poem stand out? Do tell!

PS: On a completely different topic, I just posted a new review over at MRLR. If you use cosmetics, this is one to check out. Hope you’ll stop by soon.

Author: Geraldine

I am a freelance writer, poet, artisan, avid book/product reviewer and award-winning cookbook author. I recently published the second volume of my new vegetarian cookbook series: The Groovy Green Kitchen (Volume 2): Simply, Super, Supper Soups and my inspirational, pro-active and fun book/eBook, all about aging well: Laughing AT the Grim Reaper! Gems of Wisdom for Aging Well. I am also the author of: The Groovy Green Kitchen (Volume 1): Weeknight Veggie Slow Cooker. Third Chapter, Second Chance (a mid-life romance). Not Just for Vegetarians: Delicious Homestyle Cooking, the Meatless Way and the poetry collections: Haiku Reflections: The Four Seasons (Volumes I, II and III) and My Poetic Path. These titles are available at all the Amazon sites. When I'm not writing or creating new recipes, I love to knit and crochet; usually with some "help" from feline friend, the yarn-loving Mr. Cheddar! 🐱 With Blogger, I also host my new author's site: Geraldine Helen Hartman and my product review blog: My Real Life Reviews. I hope you will visit often and enjoy all of my sites.😂 Thanks so much for stopping by. Wishing You a Happy Week and Namaste!

8 thoughts on “What Makes a Poem: Great,So-So…or just plain BAD?

  1. Hmm. Is it like pornography? I can’t describe it but I know it when I read/hear it? Because I’ve been trying to describe the poems that speak to me and I can’t. The ones I like touch an emotional core and usually have linguistic gymnastics but not all of them.

  2. Thanks for highlighting my poems, Geraldine. I am touched.

    I visited the winning poem. Then I looked up “javelina,” so I’ve learned something. Three sisters, a mate, and a son nestling under a tree in December? OK. I found the repetition bugged me because it didn’t seem to evoke anything but these animals. I don’t know what makes these contests what they are. I appreciate blogging because it allows us to decide for ourselves what is good and to promote what we like–without permission or approval.

  3. Writing competitions can be hard to fathom. I didn’t mind the poem that won, in fact, I thought it was quite good, but the reptition did bother me a bit. Should it have been the winner? I have no idea. The judges of these things have very subjective viewpoints that can be hard to understand.

    Take the Booker prize in fiction. Many of the books that have won it I have personally disliked yet I cannot deny the skill of the writer. You just never really know why things stand out for the judges.

    May I congratulate Sandy on her excellent poetry. That is outstanding. I hope it does well for you, Sandy!!

  4. I read the winning poem and liked it, except for the repetition.
    A poem either hits me, or it doesn’t, I can’t really describe why.
    In nature poems, it is easy to tell whether or not the written really has feelings for what her or she is writing about.

    As for Sandy’s poems, I have read enough of her work to know that she walks the walk, so to speak.
    I had to laugh when I read the day lily poem. We don’t have a deer for weeks, but they always seem to know when any of my lilies or asters bloom.

  5. Thank you for your comments. It is such a subjective topic, isn’t it? that being said, I still think the WD top pick is just plain LAME! And Sandy, keep the beautiful words coming…all these poems are winners!

    Happy Tuesday, G

  6. I think a poem needs to evoke feelings of some sort…and I’m not talking about revulsion or disdain. lol Though some may go for that. I read things to fill me up…to elate me. The “winner” did not bring these kind of feelings out of me. The poems you posted did. I think everyone is different and maybe the judges like this raw kind of way of putting words together. Hard to know.

  7. Ruinwen, I couldn’t agree more. There is IMHO a time and place for sadness and grief in poetry it can be touching, it can ring true…but repulsive, offensive images and words, those I can also do without as you say. Best of all, to be uplifted, to be inspired, to be stopped in our tracks by words that resonate and remain, long after the poem is over. Thanks for your insights on this, G

  8. Who are the true judges? I guess that would be the question. I guess if something that I write connects someone else to me then something worked. I have a greeting card line that has eveolved over time. I recently found a book of poetry I wrote when I was a teenager. It was pathetically contrived and even though I remember crying when I wrote some of them… I would shove a word in there just for the sake of rhyming. Now with a few more decades in-between and a lot of living, I feel that my words are seasoned with a message more so than for the sake of rhyming. I have always been tantalized by Haikus… so uncontrived… you expect and yet don’t expect anything in particular.
    Sometimes I see a winner that no one else sees and sometimes I’m left thinking “Huh?” at first prize. Or one designated as much!
    Great post!

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