Posted by: John Looker | 8 October, 2010

How long is a poem?

Someone has told me that my poems are too long. Maybe. I’ll have to think about that. It’s true I have a rather long one under construction at present, not yet ready for topping out.

But I think can do minimal too. The toughest test of that would be the haiku – so that must be the next project.


  1. I don’t think your poems are too long. But then I am a performance poet and there is nothing I like more than listening to other performance poets telling me their stories and views with that wonderful rhythm and verve. I’ve read the three poems underneath this comment and also the haiku above but I can state, categorically, that I prefer the longer poems of yours. Yes, it is important to be able to diversify – to challenge yourself – but poetry is (or rather should be) instinctive. It is obvious that your instinct is more than to take one thought and let it float but rather to explore the thought and expand it. I think you do it very well.


    • Thank you very much indeed for taking the trouble to read more than one of my poems and to comment in such a thoughtful way. I’ve been reflecting on your remarks and find them most encouraging, but also your observations about the part to be played by instinct are very stimulating. I shall go back to your own website and read more of the poems you have posted.


  2. I think even haiku is too long.
    I like 2 lines. I have a bunch.
    I call them shorties.
    unfortunately I am at the other end of the spectrum and I feel uncomfortable writing longer poems.


    • Shorties? I’ll look them up on your site.


      • I like long poems, dont get me wrong.
        perhaps its my obsession with being efficient that leaves even
        my poems sparse as possible.


  3. John, your poems are not too long! Good Lord, poetry has no perfect length one way or the other. I’ve written at least one epic line poem that is just under 300 pages typescript long. Still, haiku can be absolutely, magically wonderful, and you are a poet, a better than a man climbing a mountain showering the earth with beauty poet. What a silly idea. Keep writing. Keep writing. Ethel, by the way, really liked your comment on her Against All Odds poem.


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