I become disheartened when I read negative comments from editors or renowned poets about what they feel poetry is or should be. I don’t think personal aesthetics have any place in an editor or an influencer’s role. One long-term editor of a literary journal recently said they didn’t like poems that they felt were cold and clever. This, to me, reflects a lack of a sense of adventure when it comes to the type of writing that the journal would be open to publishing and doesn’t really serve readers very well. A well-respected writer and thinker dismissed word play as not important. What these kinds of flippant comments do, in my mind, is to place limits on experimentation and exploration.
In my opinion, an editor should be open to all types of poetry, including forms they have themselves never made as a poet or dreamt of. They should be willing to expose readers of poetry to all kinds of variety and risk. If not on a printed page, then where?
Word play can be a way of mining the subconscious to reveal what has long been buried in the psyche. Also, not every poem has to make an important statement about the state of the world. A humble, playful poem by one person might inspire another person to create something and so on. I treat the derision and narrow-minded attitudes I hear about poetry as a challenge. Defiance of the status quo is one of the reasons that I need poetry, both as a reader/viewer/listener and as an artist.