WHY POETRY MATTERS
“The rhythms of poetry, not very different from the rhythms of breathing, reach back to primal feelings, just as surely as its images open windows to the larger experiences that are central to life” – Gary Geddes.
Poetry matters because it helps us to pay attention to the details that might otherwise pass us by unnoticed. The pace of life has sped up and for the most part people no longer take the time to use all their senses to attune themselves to what is going on around them. Poems demand that we slow down, listen to words chosen carefully to convey a special message in images that we can visualize or imagine smelling, touching, tasting. When we tune in to the “small stuff”, the process results in our becoming more open, more aware, more able to respond to the myriad of events, the “larger experiences”, that occur on a daily basis.
Poetry matters because it connects us with our core, to our heart beating rhythmically, our breath going in and out. Like music, poetry serves a basic need in humans: to find satisfaction, pleasure, even joy in joining with a beat. Children know this instinctively and delight in the playful rhythms of nursery rhymes. Children play with sounds and words as they develop language. Many of us lose the focus we all had as children on this innate need for rhythm or we allow it into our lives only in a limited way.
Poetry matters because it is alive! My poetry education when I was at school taught me about the work of numerous poets whose poems were inspiring and important but who were all dead. I am glad I learned about Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, Rosetti and so many others. Their work gave me the grounding in knowledge essential to an appreciation of literature. But, now, I’m glad I also later discovered the work of living poets, people who have made poetry a part of their everyday lives. Knowing that so many poets are actively creating new poems every day helps me to connect with poetry, to feel it’s not only “okay” but it’s also essential.