Tomorrow is the beginning of National Poetry Month. Though I already post quite often about poetry, I’m considering posting some more significant poems during the month of April.
Jennifer Benka, the director of the Academy of American Poets, discusses the benefits of reading poetry.
The benefits of reading any literary work are immeasurable and life enriching. Reading is reflection—contemplative time. I think poetry, especially, requires that you step outside of the daily rush. Each poem is an art object that’s only activated when a person engages with it. And when you let words with their jagged edges, sharp music, and visual prompts assemble in the mind—when you exercise your imagination and allow language to elicit an intellectual and emotional response—you are more actively participating in your life. Audre Lorde said, “Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge.” Poetry requires feeling, offers personal insight, and increases empathy. In speaking about the role of the art form, Mark Doty once said, “The project of poetry, in a way, is to raise language to such a level that it can convey the precise nature of subjective experience.” In this way, poems are sense records of our humanity, mapping ways in and ways out.