Finding the pieces that turn writing into poetry

Matthew Zapruder in the Los Angeles Times:

ScreenHunter_13 Sep. 20 10.45

Mostly at the beginning I was putting down stray lines, and trying to fit them into what it seemed to me at the time were poems. The problem was that I had absolutely no idea what a poem was. Or maybe I had too many shallow ideas. I knew what you were if you were a good poet — a winner of the Nobel Prize, a professor, published in the New Yorker — but I didn't know why the poems those people wrote were considered good. They were all so different. Once I started reading literary magazines, and books haphazardly recommended to me, I just got more confused.

One burning question I remember having at the time was: Why doesn't poetry rhyme anymore? From what I could remember, the limited amount of poetry I had read in high school and college was formal. Even the 20th century poets we read — Yeats, Frost, Auden — wrote in forms. The only exception was T.S. Eliot's “The Wasteland,” which was completely baffling to me.

Of course, I knew there was something called “free verse,” because I had seen it in magazines and books, and even heard it read by poets like Robert Hass and Gary Snyder, at readings upstairs in Cody's Bookstore on Telegraph Avenue. What they read sure felt like poetry to me, and I liked that feeling. But I was also suspicious of it. It seemed too easy, not as hard as writing something that rhymed.

More here. [Thanks to Christine Klocek-Lim.]