In Good Poems Keillor suggests that what makes a poem good depends both on what one intends to use it for and who intends to use it. If one wants a poem for English majors to analyze in a seminar room, certain qualities are likely to be prizedâ€”complexity, density, ambivalence. But if one intends poems to reach a general audience in the ordinary business of their day, then other qualities are primaryâ€”such as expressive power, music, and memorability.
…Good Poems is not a volume aimed at academic pursuits but at ordinary human purposes. And it insists that poetry can still play a meaningful role in those purposes. So unambiguously dedicated to the notion that poetry is a vehicle for truth, self-awareness, and inspiration, Good Poems is a post-modernistâ€™s nightmare in nineteen chapters.
from Dana Gioia’s review of Good Poems edited by Garrison Keillor.