Over the summer at a BBQ, a family friend asked what classes I was going to be taking in the fall. As I began to list them off, he suddenly stopped me and said, “Poetry? Are you just taking that just for fun?”
Shrugging, I replied with, “Well, I’m really excited for it but it’s also for my major.”
“Oh right I forgot your dad said you were studying English.”
I get that type of response more often than I would like to care to admit. But what has been bothering me even more lately is the answer I get when people hear I’m studying poetry in particular. “Really?” They ask, before shaking their head. That irks me for a plethora of reasons (obviously). Here is my list why more people should seriously study poetry.
1. This is a simple one, but still valuable. Who doesn’t love music? If anyone says a flat out no I’m not sure if I can trust them. But what’s another name for song lyrics? Poetry. How great would it be to be able to comprehend those songs you like so much? Knowing the imagery, metaphors, motifs, and similes that are in your favorite song only heightens your enjoyment.
2. Many of us have heard the idea that the brain is like a muscle. Well ladies and gentleman, it is! Older people are actually encouraged to read and analyze poetry in order to keep their minds sharp.
3. For the younger crowd reading this, it can help you as well. It will open up your mind to the prospect of new ideas and words and even teach you how to think analytically. This is part of critical thinking, which is one of the most important components of education.
4. We also study poetry so that we might learn something new about who we are as people. Every time you read a poem, something new is revealed to you. Perhaps it’s a new idea, image, political party, way to look at your dog, or so forth! The point is, something exciting and different is being exposed to you, allowing you to make up your own mind on the subject.
5. Finally, we also study poetry because we are humans. We have the amazing ability to create works of art from nothing. By putting words on a page we can evoke images of beauty, destruction, love, death, despair and so many more it would be impossible to list them all. What’s the point of honestly being alive, of living and breathing, if we don’t have a creative outlet to pour out heart into? Poetry is so unique because, in a sense, there are no rules. You can follow a rhyming scheme , or not. You can have the same amount of syllables in each line, or not. It doesn’t matter. You can place words like an abstract painting and just toss them in the air and see where they fall! No other type of writing would ever dare to allow this to happen. It’s the most free way to write, and there is no topic that is too taboo to dabble in.
I know there must be a lot more reasons out there to study poetry. But I think it makes you a better person, a smarter person, more well rounded, and honestly just way more cool. What are your reasons to study it?