Why Poetry Writing Is Good For Our Soul
Apr 14, 2021
Here’s something we haven’t heard before — April 17 is the official International Haiku Poetry Day! Everyone likes haikus, which Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as “an unrhymed verse form of Japanese origin having three lines containing usually five, seven, and five syllables respectively.”
For example, Matsuo Bashō is a famous haiku poet:
From time to time
The clouds give rest
To the moon-beholders.
Reading and writing haiku poetry as well as thinking about specific haiku meaning is fun. You can also pick up the basics of how to write a haiku poem pretty quickly. But let’s talk about poetry in a more general sense.
Why do thousands of people devote themselves to poetry writing? What benefits does poetry reading have to give us? Can poems for kids spark creativity and imagination?
Poetry Increases Our Attention Span
While our world is being dominated by endless scrolls of images from Instagram and shallow text snippets from Twitter, it’s becoming more difficult to focus our attention on a single thing.
In that sense, poetry is greatly underestimated. Even though most poems can be read in under a minute, they truly blossom when given time. Poetry is full of metaphors and meaning that’s waiting to be unraveled — it’s the most compact expression of deep emotions.
Becoming more concentrated works not only with poetry reading and pondering, but also with poetry writing — thinking of the best way to frame what you feel in a few short rhyming lines.
Poetry Helps Us Look Closer
If you let it, poetry will teach you to really be alive in the present moment. Even without diving deep into the metaphorical world, poems are quite descriptive — and they often describe the things we miss in our day-to-day lives.
Poetry teaches us to appreciate the surrounding world, whether it’s being in nature, looking at others or feeling the joy of our work.
Poetry Is Healing
There’s no doubt that poetry is therapeutic for the writer. It’s introspective. It boosts your confidence and forces you to face your emotional fears. When you sit down to write, eventually you start writing about feelings that have been lately consuming your mind. You let it all out and then you can breathe again, and the positivity returns.
Similarly, poetry helps us embrace compassion and love for others. Poetry is often described as a bridge to empathy, forming direct connections between people.
Poetry Encourages Creative Expression
Writing poetry is one of the best ways to get your creative juices flowing. Since you’re restricted by a certain framework (especially with haikus), you’re forced to think outside your comfort zone — always looking for another word or another way to convey a similar meaning.
Reading poetry expands your vocabulary and gives you limitless ideas about the world around you. Suddenly, you know how to tackle seemingly unrelated challenges in your life.
Speaking poetry can teach you about beat, rhythm and rhyme. It can strengthen your verbal communication, bring clarity to your diction and even improve your presentation skills.
Overall, thinking of poetry as a craft to get better at will keep your mind working throughout the day and make you more productive.
100 Day Haiku Challenge
Want to get all the aforementioned benefits of poetry? The best way to do so is form a consistent habit around your poetry writing. And since regular poems can take lots of shapes, the easiest form to start with is actually haiku — just three lines, containing five, seven and five syllables, respectively.
So challenge yourself to write 100 haikus in 100 days. You’ll find that some will take you just a few minutes and some you’ll have to think about a bit more. But this daily accountability will help you build confidence, immeasurably improve your thinking and give a true sense of accomplishment.
Poetry Reading Recommendations
Reading poetry not only can inspire you to write better poetry, it’s also a therapeutic act in itself. So here are a few of our favorite authors you can start with.
For haiku references, Matsuo Bashō is your best source, frequently recognized as the greatest master of haiku.
Among contemporary poets, Rupi Kaur stands out for open, accessible and vulnerable style. Milk and Honey is a great collection to peruse.
Going back in time, Rumi and Hafiz are 13th and 14th century Persian poets who inspired and continue to inspire millions of people to this day. Take a look at Essential Rumi and The Subject Tonight Is Love.
Finally, Walt Whitman and his Leaves of Grass are foundational to free verse poetry and understanding of self.
Just like this, in 100 days, poetry reading and writing can take you for a deep dive of self-exploration, gratification and healing that would remain a helpful life guide, forever at your side.