I will not pretend to have all of the answers to what characterizes a good ending to a poem. In fact, I struggle a bit with endings to my own poems. It can be a very challenging thing to do for poets. However, we all know endings, as Anne Cigic suggests, “are important” and every poem comes to one. Or do they?
Barbara Herrnstein Smith notes that some poems stop while other poems end. There is a difference. And I think the beautiful thing about Cigic’s ending to her poem, “Inadequacy” is that it stops at an image—"a twisted womb.” Cigic’s stopping freezes us and I’d argue that we are required to think about what happens in the “end.” Does the speaker eventually “confess” or “reveal?”
I’m glad I had the opportunity to work with Cigic on her ending. She is clear proof that sometimes endings don’t come right away and they require work and attention. Cigic gave her poem just that—work and attention—two things that are required to write a good poem.
Ali Black Ali Black is a poet, educator, consultant and youth advocate. She directs one of the city's most successful after school and summer program for girls ages 10-18 at West Side Community House. Ali has been writing and performing poetry for over 15 years. She has taught and performed at Playhouse Square, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Juvenile Detention Center, various schools throughout Cuyahoga County and elsewhere. She is the co-founder of acerbic, which is an arts collective dedicated to providing a safe and resourceful home to artists of color. She is currently working on her first collection of poetry and is a current graduate student for poetry at Cleveland State University's NEOMFA program. Her work has appeared in A Race Anthology: Dispatches and Artifacts From a Segregated City and she is the recipient of the 2016 Academy of American Poets University & College Poetry Prize for her poem “Kinsman.”