Now that Ron Silliman's away, I can explain Poetry for everybody, without interruption. Listen up, folks.
Poetry began many years ago in Greece, with a fellow named Homer. One fine day it occurred to Homer that if he would just write it down, he could skip all the sweat about memorizing and improvising. This was in B.C. (before computers), so Homer used a piece of slate (type of stone, everybody) and a stick of burnt wood. There were no erasers in those days, so thus we have a very long poem. Homer called it "The Iliad", which remains probably one of the greatest poems ever written with a piece of slate and a stick of burnt wood. JUST THEN, a smart-aleck named Heckla wandered by, saw what Homer was doing, and crieth out in a loud voice: "That's epic, man (heh-heh)!" Suddenly, we had a new literary genre in the world, called "epic poetry".