With art being so subjective, how many people have to think a poem is “good” before it is actually deemed “good”? Does getting your poem published make it “good”? In a perfect world art would be judged solely by the person observing it, but that’s not the world we live in. In the real world, we have people who tell us how “good” we are at writing poetry. We have publishers and editors, teachers, professors, parents, friends, and the most harsh critic of all– ourselves. I don’t like the idea of someone getting “better” at writing poetry. This means that a person wrote a poem, certain individuals then told them what they liked about the piece and this caused them to run with those ideas. That lane only goes so far and then eventually you’ll have to move over. You can never please everyone. Those aspects of your work that certain people enjoyed could have been the aspects that everyone else hated.
The poetry Gods smile down upon all art, and any expression of it. Why can’t we be that open-minded? Bringing money into the poetry equation forces a group of people to decide which poems are worth paying for and which aren’t. How many of you have read a poem that somebody got published and you thought the poem was absolutely awful? Most likely, that person got paid by the letter or by the line for that poem, or they did not get paid at all and just got it included in the anthology. Someone judged the quality of their work and deemed it better than all of the other submissions that they received. Was their poem truly better? Who’s authorized to judge it? Me? You? Some stranger in an office who reads 100 of them a day and by number 70 wants to go home and stick her head in the oven from reading so much “crappy” poetry?
The world of art has moved from the page and the galleries to the internet. A vast majority of people find all of their poetry online. If they witnessed the “good” poetry in person, poets would be getting paid as much as athletes. Page Vs Stage would be a weekly event culminating in a Grand Championship and the poets presenting their work would get paid thousands of dollars per poem they read. The only poets who make a lot of money for their art are singer/songwriters. We idolize the poet who includes a beat we can twerk to, but the one in the gutter scribbling his work on the underside of the bridge gets noticed by nobody except the man who eventually paints over it. Was his work any less valuable? Everyone has their own voice and their own unique way of expressing it. Most of the “success” in any art medium is limited to exposure; how many people saw or heard your work. It’s simple math, the more people who are exposed to your art, the more people there are to love it or hate it.
You have a voice. You have the same right as everyone else to express it. Do not let other people tell you how “good” your work is. The only opinion that matters is your own. If you believe that a piece you wrote does not fully express your idea it is your responsibility to tear it down and fix it until you love the end result. Maybe one day you’ll get lucky and millions of people will read your work. Until that day comes, write as if no one will ever read your poetry. Spill your entire being out onto the page. Even if no one ever notices your work it has served its purpose, you expressed yourself. And hey, cheer up! Your mother will always love your work, even if no one else does.