The Benefits of Poetry
Updated: Apr 4
April is National Poetry Month! You might wonder how that connects to the purpose and ideals behind Iamaria.org. Depending on your perspective and your willingness to explore how you feel through poetry, it can be a very meaningful connection.
Writing, in all forms, is a way to explore how you’re feeling. Very often, expressing yourself through writing can be a way to sift through overwhelming emotions and what you are experiencing, on paper, where there is no judgment.
If writing poetry is not your usual “go-to” way of working through how you are feeling, you might feel hesitant to put the things inside you down on paper. But in the words of Emily Dickenson, “Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door.” Perhaps giving poetry a try is “a door” that could help us all find solace and self-understanding.
Here are a few ideas and things to remember if you’re willing to give it a try.
1) Read, read, read! Read poetry from classic poets of long ago like Keats, Dickenson, Longfellow, and Lord Byron. Then move on and look at the work of amateur poetry writers who post online. There are so many different poetry websites and blogs. People also post poetry on social media like Instagram and Facebook, too. It is often confirming to know that other people express their deepest, darkest feelings through this form of writing.
2) Feel free to express yourself! Remember that poetry doesn’t have to rhyme. Poems don't have to rhyme; they don't have to fit any specific format; and they don't have to use any specific vocabulary or be about any specific topic. But here's what they do have to do: use words artistically by employing figurative language. To get yourself started, look up free verse poetry and read some examples from others.
3) Explore shorter forms of poetry! There’s a great website called “Owlcation,” which explains various forms of short poetry with examples geared toward expressing emotion. https://owlcation.com/humanities/10-Types-of-Short-Poetic-Forms
4) Random Acts of Poetry! Once you have your poetry written, leave a poem for others. Sounds scary? Random acts of poetry can be done in various ways. Some people go out to a place like a park in the early morning and write even just a line or two of a poem they wrote on the sidewalk in colorful sidewalk chalk. Maybe you end up with a line or two that you feel would help someone else feel like there are others out there struggling through the same challenges in life. Maybe your words will inspire someone or make them feel connected to others in the world. Similarly, you could take a poem you wrote (print out/make a copy) and leave it somewhere for someone to find. Inside a library book, on the pin-up board at a Starbucks, folded and left in a bathroom stall. You’ll never know how your words might just hit a very meaningful nerve with the person who finds your random act of poetry.
Of course, you can also write just for yourself. It can be a beautiful way to express all that you feel within. In the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “poetry can be the spontaneous overflow of feelings.”
We all have those moments when what we are feeling can be powerful and overwhelming. We hope this month, you might take up the pen and let the feelings flow, and possibly heal at least a bit, through the creative outlet poetry can be.