When a definition of poetry is possible, it will signify poetry’s demise. Nevertheless, here are some definitions of poetry by poets:
A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.
Poetry is like fish: if it’s fresh, it’s good; if it’s stale, it’s bad; and if you’re not certain, try it on the cat.
Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toenails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are along in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own.
Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting.
In a poem the words should be as pleasing to the ear as the meaning is to the mind.
In poetry you have a form looking for a subject and subject looking for a form. When they come together successfully you have a poem.
A poem should not mean, but be.
You will not find poetry anywhere unless you bring some of it with you.
Poetry is language surprised in the act of changing into meaning.
Poetry is emotion put into measure. The emotion must come by nature, but the measure can be acquired by art
Poetry is to prose as dancing is to walking.
Poetry provides the one permissible way of saying one thing and meaning another.
Only emotion endures.