According to the poem 'Poetry' by Marianne Moore, what is "important" about poetry?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is a fascinating poem, as it seeks out to try and define poetry but ends up by merely listing a number of things that poetry isn't and only stating a few criteria that must be met if poetry is to truly live up to that name. The poem seeks to pose a question that it never fully answers, and through its response it seeks to explore some of what poetry is and also what it isn't. What is important about poetry, above all else, the speaker states, is its rawness and that it is genuine, as the concluding lines state:

In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,
the raw material of poetry in
all its rawness and
that which is on the other hand
genuine, you are interested in poetry. 

Poetry, because it deals with the "rawness" of life but also what is "genuine," is important, because it does something that other forms of writing, such as "business documents and / school-books," do not. Poetry is above all else important because it is "useful," and this seems to be the governing criteria that is presented and explored in this poem. After struggling so much to move towards a definition, poetry is thus left still undefined and uncharacterised, but this poem does serve to move the reader closer towards a definition through how the importance of poetry is presented. 

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