Poem-a-Day: The benefits of reading poetry

Why Poetry?

I'll be the first to admit that I don't read much poetry. I read it in school when I had to, occasionally with other writers as part of some exercise we were doing, and I read friends' poetry when they give it to me or publish it. But on my own, I read novels and occasionally short stories. 

Poetry has so much to offer, though. When I do take the time to read poetry, I invariably get something out of it that I can't get from novels or short stories, with the exception of some types of flash fiction (super-short stories - the short form moves their content into the realm of poetry).


I'll be reading the poetry posted this week at poem-a-day, and responding to it in some way. They post new poetry during the week and classics on the weekend. I'm also open to reading other poems and sharing links to poets' work, so let me know if you have any suggestions. To avoid any sort of publishing rights concerns, I'm only going to quote the first a few lines and provide a link to the rest of the poem. 

Bad poetry example: There once was cat who was very fat, but he didn't care very much about that. at least not until someone made him into a hat. 

Bad poetry example: There once was cat who was very fat, but he didn't care very much about that. at least not until someone made him into a hat. 

I've written my own poetry in the past, but I don't think I'm very good at it. First, it's rare for someone to write well in a form they don't read. Second, I don't try very often and when I do, I tend to be silly or melodramatic. I've written a little prose poetry, which is prose that reads like poetry. For a good example of prose poetry, check out 'Sleep' by Russel Edson, published at web del soul.

The Poetry Foundation commissioned a study to find out who reads poetry. Here are a few of their key findings, copied from their site. This certainly makes me want to be a part of the poetry-reading public! 

  • Poetry is appreciated by a broad and demographically diverse portion of society; individuals from all walks of life and education levels read and enjoy poetry.
  • Poetry readers tend to be sociable and lead active lives. They listen to music, read a variety of genres, use the Internet, attend cultural events, volunteer, and socialize with friends and family at significantly higher rates than do non-poetry readers.
  • Poetry readers believe that poetry provides insights into the world around them, keeps the mind sharp, helps them understand themselves and others, and provides comfort and solace.

You can find the rest at this page.

And here are all the reasons I can think of to read poetry:

  • It's fun
  • It reveals a different way to look at the world
  • It's short and doesn't take much time
  • It feels good to support poets by reading their work and sharing it with others
  • You'll have resources if someone asks you to read at their wedding
  • It's a relatively easy way to expose yourself to creative writing
  • You'll gain an increased vocabulary and understanding of language

I hope you'll join me in reading poetry this week, whether you read the ones I link to or others. 

Week Five: Creative - Poem-A-Day

  1. Day One - Names
  2. Extra Poem - I Am Vertical
  3. Day Two - Non-lieux
  4. Extra Poem - Bring on the Goddamn Cat
  5. Day Three - As a Portent
  6. Extra Poem - To Autumn
  7. Day Four - Playback
  8. Day Five - Last Night
  9. Day Six - Black Cat
  10. Day Seven - Weave In, My Hardy Life
  11. Extra Poems
  12. Conclusion