Like with so many other things (art, music, films), the perceived quality of poetry is totally subjective and thus it should be impossible to say that some poetry is 'bad' and other is 'good'. However, many people seem to have similar views on what constitutes universally bad poetry and they tend to be something like:
  • Poetry that means a lot to the author but little or nothing to anyone else. I think this is partly because many people write poetry as a form of therapy when going through the rough parts of life, and the stuff one writes while depressed tend to be inchoherent, self-pitying and/or introspective. There's nothing wrong with writing that kind of stuff if it makes you feel better, but you should really think twice before letting anyone else read it.
  • Poetry that only says things that've been said before (and better). There are some themes you should try to stay clear of if you want to be taken seriously (like 'eternal love', 'fading roses', and almost anything to do with vampires), escpecially if haven't got anything original to offer. Okay, there's nothing inherently wrong with imitating another poet as a learning experience, but again, you should think twice before showing it to anyone else.
  • Poetry written by someone not at ease with the language. By this I mean poetry with contrived or awkward rhymes, or written in a meter the author couldn't handle. Free verse is far more difficult than it seems at first, and not everyone is a Whitman or an E.E. Cummings. This is mostly a matter of experience, though. The more you write, the better you get and you acquire your own voice and style.
  • Poetry that's just incomprehensible, nonsensical and/or obscure; whose meaning is only known to the original author. It's a common mistake to think that a simple theme is not good enough and that obfuscating it somehow makes it better.
There are exceptions to every rule; expecially those listed above. Some really great pieces have been the fruits of angst and depression, some really, really good ones are nonsensical (take 'Jabberwocky' for instance), and there are some poets who can blow life into even the most worn-out themes.

There's a fine line between being brilliant and being pathetic, but being able to make that distinction is a step towards the former.

i've noticed
that most people
no matter who, or where
think that they can just say
something
anything
that comes into their heads
and if they put in some semi-
random
line breaks
and take out all the capital letters
suddenly
it becomes
poetry!
even though they have nothing
at all
to say
.

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