What Good is Poetry?

Much of life can seem illusory, ethereal. Moments and events may occur, then vanish, leaving us to wonder, “Was it real? Did it really happen? Did it have an effect?”

All of us have a need to know that what has happened in our lives actually happened (perhaps why so many selfies are snapped). I think this is the unique difference between us and all the other creations in this world.

It is not just the need to verify the actual fact of existence that drives us, but the need to make sense of the special moments and events in our lives.

From the earliest time we have sent messages into the future, whether drawings on a cave wall or marks on a clay tablet.

The writing of tight, condensed words arranged into what we have come to acknowledge as poetry is one way we have evolved to message our future. We are attempting to convey the nature, the lived sense, of what is real to us now, the way of the what that gives meaning to our existence.

While few of us have the skills of painting, sculpture or other crafts, all of us have acquired a degree of skill with language.

The skills of language become the skills of poetry by honing the sequence of written words to establish meaning. The words of a poem build a sense of our world, a letter, so to speak, to our future selves, trying to come ever so closer to the why of the what, to see what is real more clearly.

Featured image by Phil Romans under the creative commons license on Flickr.

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