The Didactic Poem

I recently had a conversation with a friend about didactic poetry.  Her poem had been negatively critiqued for being didactic.  The Poetry Foundation defines didactic poetry as,

“Poetry that instructs, either in terms of morals or by providing knowledge of philosophy, religion, arts, science, or skills. Although some poets believe that all poetry is inherently instructional, didactic poetry separately refers to poems that contain a clear moral or message or purpose to convey to its readers.”

It’s not my favorite form.  I like my poetry a little juicier, but sometimes its important to state an opinion straightforwardly and clearly, boiled down to essence.    Sometimes people need a straight shot of information to go on, or go forth.

I also find that writing didactically can clarify something about which I’m fuzzy or misinformed. That is exactly what happened to me when I was writing to this prompt for which I felt great resistance – Pop Art.  I now have a better idea of what Andy and the gang were showing us; the point to, as it previously appeared to me, utterly banal art.  So thank you Victoria Ceretto-Slotto for your prompt at the d’Verse Poets Pub.  I love being stripped of my erroneously conceived opinion!


“Soup Can 11.46 (Tomato Soup)” Andy Warhol.

With A Slight Bow to Andy Warhol


I never liked those soup cans


retrospective soon as they appeared,

boring beyond belief, as if the Fifties

on which we so happily turned our backs

insisted on re-emergence.


Probably, it’s the storyteller in me,

failing to find purchase in a soup can,

who resents how pop art drains soul

from its subjects, crafts icons out of isolation.


Isolation is a man-made illusion

designed to punish, torture, maim.

But this is exactly the dreary point Pop Art

makes so well, the warning it flashes.


Notice we eagerly deny… no one willing

to admit commercialism kills.  Entices us,

one-by -one, to separate.  Presses us flat,

churning out thousands of identical copies


until we saturate the market with ourselves,

everything else disappears, and we stand alone

on a flat white canvas wiped clean of all connection,

dead as a single beautifully painted doornail


with no one left to notice.

This entry was posted in Art, Cultural icons, Poetry, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Didactic Poem

  1. sdtp33 says:

    I never did like those soup cans either, they always seemed too glib, too easy…but I like your examination and dissection of the “dreary point” that pop art makes…well done!

  2. Woah! This really built up. I love your movement of ideas.

  3. That last line and the stanza preceding it really gobsmacked me. An insightful poem, well-written. Three cheers for didactic poetry.

  4. Sabio Lantz says:

    Nice didactic on what you sense to be the value of pop art

  5. msjadeli says:

    Christine, thank you for the exposition. Your poem is insightful and compelling. Just now I had a flash of myself as one of those soup cans!

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