Limits in poetry

I think that every poet has limits–what they come to understand they will and won’t do in their poems. They may be based on structure, content, form, et. al., but I am willing to bet nearly every poet has them.

For example: Sound poetry. I am fascinated by sound poetry and would see myself moving in that direction in the future as I continue to explore down to the letter level where I’m going in my poems. Other poets are not so interested in sound poetry or think that poems should explore real things/have functional properties. This is an okay limit to have, but I can see myself moving past it. I don’t necessarily see poetry as being tied up in the emotion of the speaker. Sometimes it has to do with the visceral, psychosomatic reaction that a reader has to the poem. And sometimes, the poem just sounds fascinating and intricate. It may just be a work of art, an experience. That’s okay with me.

But there are limits I don’t even want to get close to. For me, those are not structural or formal limits. They’re content limits. Moral limits.

Though I see poetry as an exploration of some of the deepest parts of the human, including the grotesque ones, I’m not sure how far I could go in describing depravity and evil. As a Christian, I think that there are lines I wouldn’t want to cross or even toe near. Some poets may agree with me and others may argue that I’m limiting myself to certain subject matter. I’m okay with limiting myself in this way. I think that each poet ought to decide what his/her limits are in poetry. These limits may change over time as each of us develop, but right now I’m starting to consider for myself what it means to guard morality within a poem. (For myself? For readers?)

Do you see yourself having limits when you approach your poetry? If so, what are they?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *