Why Poetry Matters: The Aim of Poetry

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Even if you’re not the most book-smart or widely-read person in the world, you’ve heard plenty of poetry before. Whether it’s someone rapping verses about their woes, or the song lyrics that get stuck in your head after listening to the radio, poetry has pervaded almost every aspect of modern culture and entertainment over the past century. So, why does poetry matter? What exactly is its aim? How does it affect its audience?

As with all art, poetry is emotive

Poetry helps us to explore, enjoy, and even appreciate how we experience life. Every other art form, be it sculpture or painting or music, relies on some form of emotive expression to survive; in this way, poetry is no different. Even if its objective is merely to paint a pretty picture, there’s always some kind of emotion invoked in what you see and experience. In short, poetry matters because it can make us feel alive in ways many other art forms can’t.

While poems may seem useless to some, they actually serve many different purposes. Poetry can communicate emotions, preserve history, and teach lessons to the reader, often all at the same time. However, there’s one question you’ve likely never asked yourself about poetry: what exactly is the aim of poetry? Is it to make the reader feel emotion? Make the reader think? Teach them something? The answer lies somewhere in between all three.

Poetry helps us understand ourselves better

Many people believe that poetry is only for enjoyment or art. However, there are many arguments for why poetry matters and plays a significant role in society and life. One reason is that it helps us understand ourselves better as human beings by giving us an insight into what others might be feeling.

Poetry matters because it’s an art form that gives us the ability to contemplate big ideas about humanity, existence, and ourselves in ways we may not be able to think about in everyday life. The best poetry puts us in the mind of another person and expands our perspective on what it means to be human. It can teach us something new about ourselves, or someone else, or the world at large, and make us feel more connected to everything around us.

Poetry can be used as a form of therapy

A person can also use poetry as a form of therapy. Writing and reading can be cathartic, as it helps one to process emotions and deal with a loss or trauma, especially in a supportive environment. People often approach poetry simply as something that’s meant to be read and admired on a page. But, poetry can also offer a unique way to talk through feelings, work through problems, and make sense of things that otherwise may seem impossible to understand.

Turning abstract thoughts into words can give you more power over how you interpret your own emotions. Studies have found people who take poetry workshops are more aware of their emotional health than people who don’t take classes. For people with specific mental health disorders like depression or anxiety, poetry therapy has been shown to help alleviate symptoms or even lead to symptom reduction in some cases.

Poetry allows us to learn about others

Poetry is one of our most intimate forms of art. It allows us to learn about others by hearing their thoughts and feelings; poetry also allows us to learn about ourselves by showing us how others perceive us. Through a poet’s work, we can come to better understand an individual’s unique perspective, sometimes without even knowing it.

Of course, when people think about poetry, they often think first about what it reveals about language—about how a poet has manipulated words and phrases in order to form new relationships between them. Linguistic insight certainly plays a huge role in poetry; in fact, many poets have actually developed new uses for language through their craft. But, that’s only half of what makes poetry so meaningful and valuable as an art form. Seeing how others can abstract their ideas into a tangible form for others to perceive and understand in their own way gives poetry a unique perspective into the hearts and minds of our fellow humans.

Poetry reminds us we are not alone

When you are going through a hard time, turning to poetry reminds us that we are not alone. When you need some words that can speak to your heart, or find a new way to see something, poetry is there for you. We talk to our friends when we are happy or sad, but sometimes it feels like they just don’t get it. Poetry is able to show us other people’s perspectives, helping us to feel less alone in our troubles. It helps us see things differently and gives a brand new way of looking at life’s problems while allowing ourselves to feel connected with others that may be going through similar things.

In my mind, I’ve always believed the aim of poetry is to apply reason, rhythm, and or rhyme to feelings in such a way so that others can relate to them usefully. In other words, poetry can be the best possible form of communication in its purest form. While many people may see poetry as being cryptic, it’s not meant to be. Poetry is written to paint a picture, tell a story, and convey something that in everyday conversational vernacular is not so easy to describe. When put to music, poetry can achieve an even greater effect, and this is how most of us interact with the art of poetry without perhaps even realizing it.

Although poetry might not seem like an important thing to be studying in our world, it actually has many benefits for not just students and teachers, but everyone of us in our daily lives. Not only can poetry be used as a way to show affection or mark achievements, but it also can help us all better learn how to use our own creativity and imagination.

Poetry matters not just in becoming a better academic, nor do you have to become a poet yourself to fully appreciate the impact it can have on us. Find some poetry you like and relate with, whether it comes in the form of written poetry collections or in the lyrics of your favorite songs. As you explore the fullness and depth that the art of poetry can provide, you’ll gain a much broader perspective of the world and human kind as a result.

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.
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