At the Mighty Tieton LitFuse workshop, Kathleen Flenniken talked about how each line of a poem could (or should) contain a surprise—so that if you looked at that line on your own, even out of context, you would find something new or disturbing or delicious. At least, that's how I interpreted.
But when does the surprising become the startling, and when does the startling become vague or even a little monotonous?
Last week, I read a few poems from Black Warrior Review on the Verse Daily website. They worked very hard at juxtaposing disparate images for surprise or shock or even glee. But at the end of each poem, I felt left without a coherent whole.
Maybe a poem doesn't need a coherent whole. Maybe that's a crutch I rely on. Still: How do you surprise the senses without dulling them? How does your work avoid becoming a cliché of itself?