To me, poetry is a very intimate endeavor. I write to capture images of moments real and imagined, or to exorcise overwhelming emotion. Very often my inspiration is visual, a happening scene that evokes concepts and ideas which demand utterance.
A poem, thus, is a way of capturing and communicating something, and evoking the emotional character of that something. The use of language in a poem is evocation, a summoning of the final place the poet wishes to leave the reader. Prose, by contrast, is intended to be communicative, to give the reader a clear view and path to the intended destination. Prose demands an agreement on the nature of meaning, on words meaning what they say, on orderly progression through the writing. Poetry, by contrast, uses the meanings of words and the progression of lines as a kind of backlighting, a way of illuminating rather than describing.