A Brief Statement on the Desire for Risk

Below is a “bias statement” written in the beginning of the Fall 2013 semester.

Dislikes.  I dislike it when a poem does not seem to engage in any risks.  That is, when it looks, smells, tastes, feels like what readers expect from typical poem-ness.  When it uses phrases that sound like something easily said before.  When enjambment is not engaging, or the language totally depends on enjambment to make it interesting (that said, non-ornate/plain language can be considered a risk).  If a poem, in content and form, seems to be playing it safe, I do not think it is playing at all.

Likes.  I like to see risks.  It makes me respect that entity, especially if the risks have a thickness to them: not mere impulse, but complex pulse (though impulse could lead to a complex pulse)—risks that go beyond rebellion, an action that is intended to radiate consequentially in every direction, not one linear reaction.  I want to see risks in content and form.  Dare to disturb.  Build a new metaphysics.  And on a mass scale: leap from one means of poetry to another.

Are there specific risks you enjoy seeing in writing?  What risks do you take in your writing?  What makes something a risk?