The Case for Poetry

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I am very passionate about words...the sound of words, the way they look, the feelings and images they inject into my mind. And book pages and all the uses for re-purposing them....oh wow...be still my beating heart!  Do not even get me started!

I write poems.  But that wasn't always the case.  I used to think that poetry was only reserved for, er, poets, as if you needed a poet's badge or something to write--reserved for those who wanted something to say that was mushy, but wanted to disguise it in a literary form.  But I have since realized that poetry is an art form, created by an artist much like one who wields a paintbrush, a potter's wheel, a loom.  Writing poetry is painting words into thoughts and creating a "picture" for readers to "see". 

I really like how the late William Carlos Williams, a notable American poet put it, "...What I do write and allow to survive I always feel is worth while...."  

When I first read that quote, it really resonated with me.  It keeps me writing, because it IS worthwhile.  Scraps of paper with ink scrawls, typed pages that tell, dog-eared pages of a journal are pieces of history, a gift to others, a treasure for our children.  Williams actually went on to say that no one has ever come close to describing or expressing the things he has written....he didn't say this in an arrogant way, but in a way which inspires the writing of our own personal journey.  The way YOU write about a personal trip to a waterfall is different than how anyone else writes about their trip to even the same waterfall.  Our thoughts and feelings about an event is very personal and unique...we are all given a beautiful canvas in our minds, our thoughts rising from within the brushstrokes of words. 

The nice thing about writing poetry is that we are not left high and dry out on a rickety raft in the middle of the ocean without an oar to be had.  We have literary tools to help us dress our thoughts in order to convey meaning.  And if words are a well-formed mannequin, similes and metaphors--even personification--are it's clothing--charming and elegant in it's layers of well-weighted fabric.  And then, (cue the music)--we have poetry.    

In addition, reading poetry can help reluctant readers by giving them something that  is shorter in length than what they have been assigned to read at school.  Immediate gratification.  The satisfaction of completing something in one sitting can reach the kids who would rather not start something they are afraid they will not or cannot finish.  Still haven't convinced your teenager that poetry is cool?  Print out the lyrics to their favorite songs and show the patterns found within the lines, or the rhythms that speak volumes.  
Do you write?  Do you write poetry?  Have you always wanted to, but haven't had the courage or the confidence that you can?

You can!  You need only look as far as your paper and pencil and that brain of yours.  Think of something that means something special to your heart, and find the words to describe it...using similes, metaphors, personification to help describe it the way your mind remembers it.  

Write for you.  Write for a child.  Write for no one.  Just write.  

Did you also know that the study and reading of poetry boosts literacy skills, art appreciation, critical thinking skills, and public speaking skills?  Poetry nourishes the reader, gives creative inspiration, and connects us to humanity in ways we'd never expect!  

Have I convinced you to pick up a pencil, yet?  I hope I have inspired you to try...there is no regret in trying.  I will leave you with an excerpt of a speech eloquently spoken in 1910 by Teddy Roosevelt.  Words that hang on our wall to remind us there is no harm in trying to accomplish something...only harm in giving up.   

  THE MAN IN THE ARENA
                                   

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and
timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 

I can help you find words within your heart and your head.  Words that will become a piece of you.  

To take part in a [painless] beginning poetry lesson (for you or the kids!) click here.  

And for those who would benefit from a plethora of poetry lessons, visit www.poets.org to find a whole section devoted to educators.