More on Why Poetry Matters

I don’t feel any differently than I did in my last post about this, but I like Pam Allyn’s approach over at The Huffington Post better than most. She says:

Poetry can be a game-changer for struggling writers and language learners. Once liberated to express themselves in a way that makes sense to them, suddenly, they realize their thoughts and feelings can make sense to others. A whole new pathway opens up and writers and readers, speakers and listeners speak the same language–the language of human experience.

And I love this perspective so much because I think many of us don’t view poetry as freedom of expression or play or liberating language or anything like that. I think many of us associate poetry with esoteric rules, like the rhyme scheme of a sonnet–or the difference between Italian and Shakespearean sonnets–or arcane terminology, like “iambic pentameter” or “tercet” and “quatrain” (aren’t those last two a kind of car?). And I think many of us definitely don’t associate poetry with being understood. Most poems require more than one reading, demanding the attention that our tl;dr culture doesn’t have to spare. So I love Allyn’s implied reminder that poetry is about connecting hearts through shared experience. Poetry is the form where typical rules about punctuation and sentence structure are more fluid, giving our souls room to find their own paths to each other as well.

I especially love her (brave? naive?) closing invitation to try writing poetry ourselves. Most of us leave this behind by 15, when the innate Romanticism of youth begins to be replaced by the jaded Modernism of approaching adulthood and a growing awareness of the hypocrisy and possible meaninglessness of life. But I think if more of us engaged with poetry more frequently, as writers and as readers, we would keep that sense of possibility, that sense that we can try new things and meet new people and maybe there’s something not so bad about life after all, even if it’s just that there are other people out there as miserable as we might be.

It’s a great article. Check it out.


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