5 Reasons to Read Poetry
We’re just on the cusp of National Poetry Month and I firmly believe we could all use a bit more poetry in our lives. Although there are hundreds of reasons to read poetry, here are five reasons why you should add some poetry to your reading list.
1. A Poem Gives Good Weight
In Nine Gates, Jane Hirshfield points out that poetry can be spare and elegant, and yet: “Like an honest grocer, such a poem gives good weight.” She says that “By how much is left out, we may measure how much is there.” She says that “to read a poem well, we must travel through its words but also pass through its silences, into the unlocked storehouse of self. Not everything will be given – some part of a poem’s good weight will be found outside the poem, in us.”
2. Poetry Redeems the World in Words
This is from C.D. Wright, who says, “If I wanted to understand a culture, my own for instance, and if I thought such an understanding were the basis for a lifelong inquiry, I would turn to poetry first. For it is my confirmed bias that the poets remain the most ‘stunned by existence,’ the most determined to redeem the world in words.”
3. Poetry cultivates Wonder and Serenity
Glenn Gould is talking about art in general but certainly his words apply to poetry. Yes, poetry can also be unsettling, but the unsettling can potentially lead to serenity.
“The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline, but a gradual lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.”
4. Readers of Poetry Dream Better
And why should you wish to dream better? Gaston Bachelard says, “The fact will always remain that reverie is an original peace. Poets know it. Poets tell it to us. By a poem’s exploit, reverie goes from a nirvana to poetic peace.”
5. Poetry Teaches You How to Pick the Lock
Poetry teaches you how to read poetry. If you don’t think about it too much and if you sit down with a few volumes of poetry in your lap written by various poets every week, say, eventually, you will know how to get into the rooms (stanzas) of poetry. I think, when you have read a fair bit of poetry, another side benefit is that it teaches you how astonishing you are, re: Hafiz: “I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.”
Read the words, slowly, out loud. Come in.
Pick the Lock
Being in a hurry throws the key on the ground
to a door I want you to enter.
If you read my words slowly and out loud, they
will help to pick the lock.
Wishing you all a happy poetry month.
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