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Poetry Power: Why Writers Need to Write Poems


I primarily write fiction. Paragraphs feel safe to me. Dialogue comes naturally when I write. I never imagined myself delving into the world of poetry—at least until I had to.

 

During graduate school, I found myself in a poetry workshop, unsure of what to expect. We were expected to take at least one class outside of our primary genres, and although it felt counterintuitive, I decided to give poetry a go.

 

To my surprise, writing poetry transformed my writing in ways I never imagined. It taught me how to craft better imagery, choose better words, and more carefully and creatively put them together.

 

Through this experience, I discovered that many personal and confessional poems I wrote actually worked better as essays—in fact, many of them are featured in my upcoming collection of short personal pieces. While this might seem to prove that prose writers need to stay in their own lane, I disagree. The poems were an essential part of my process; I would never have reached the point of having completed essays without first writing poems.

 

Have you ever felt this way? Does writing poetry intimidate you? Or, if you’re a poet who has been asked to try writing fiction, have you felt like you’d rather write literally anything else?

 

Today, I am speaking to fellow prose writers who may be feeling like National Poetry Month isn’t for you. But truthfully, poetry is for everyone, and numerous benefits await any writer who decides to try it.

 

You don't have to do it perfectly, and you don't have to show it to anyone. But it's worth taking a risk to experiment with language and write poetry. This is why writers need to write poems: to unlock new dimensions of their creativity and hone their craft in unexpected ways.

 

Poetry Encourages Economy of Language

 

Diving into poetry teaches an often overlooked lesson: the art of saying more with less. The meticulous attention to word choice that it requires and the stripping away of any linguistic excess can significantly elevate your writing across all genres.

 

With clarity and potency, poetry helps you learn to distill complex emotions and narratives into your work, ensuring that each word matters and resonates deeply with your audience.

 

This practice of precise language selection isn't just about brevity; it's about impact. It's learning to perfectly capture the moment, the feeling, or the image you want to convey.

 

But that's not all. This economy of language will bleed into your other writings, transforming even the most mundane sentences into captivating ones. It encourages a shift from passive storytelling to active engagement, inviting readers to lean in closer, to immerse themselves fully in the tapestry of your narrative.

 

By weaving poetry's lessons of economy into your writing fabric, you sharpen your skills and deepen the connection with your readers by pushing yourself to explore the limitless potential of words and their power to move, evoke, and inspire. In this exploration, you find not just a better way to write but a more profound way to see the world and share its stories.

 

Unlocking the Power of Imagery

 

Perhaps more so than any genre, poetry unlocks vivid imagery, allowing writers to master the art of painting with words. This realm invites you to dabble in metaphor, simile, and sensory details, crafting poems that breathe life into the abstract and make the intangible clear and concrete.

 

It's akin to a photographer selecting the perfect lens to capture a moment's essence; as a poet, your words become the lens through which readers see, feel, and experience the world.

Through exploring poetry, writers acquire the skill to sprinkle their prose with vivid imagery, transforming the mundane into the extraordinary.

 

Poetry also teaches the beauty of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, encouraging you to observe the world with wonder and curiosity. This level of detail, this depth of observation, enriches your storytelling, making it resonate on a more profound level. Whether you write essays or fiction, creating clear settings and situations is critical to how well readers enter the story.

 

Moreover, poetry's emphasis on imagery sharpens your sensory toolkit, enabling you to craft scenes that engage all the reader's senses. This skill lets you invite readers into your narrative and experience a more resonant story.

 

Embracing Emotional Depth

 

Poetry can profoundly transform a writer's approach to emotional storytelling. In the brevity and detail of poetic lines, writers can learn to excavate their most intimate emotions, using language to make them relatable to readers.

 

This exploration of the inner landscape enriches the writer's palette and creates an authentic experience that readers can't help but connect with.

 

By engaging with poetry, writers unlock the ability to convey emotions in their rawest form. It's not just about crafting characters or stories but breathing life into them and making them more real and vibrant. Poetry equips writers to render these emotions with a clarity and intensity that leaps off the page.

 

This emotional honesty also bridges the writer and the reader, forging a connection that elevates the narrative from mere words to a shared experience. This profound emotional resonance can transform a good story into an unforgettable one.

 

Through poetry, writers learn to explore the depths of their own hearts and mirror the emotional complexity of the world around them, offering readers a lens through which to see their reflections. Once mastered, this emotional depth becomes a powerful tool in a writer’s arsenal, capable of turning stories into lingering, cathartic experiences.

 

Flexibility and Fun with Form

 

Venturing into poetry opens the door to a world where the conventional rules that might confine or restrict your writing in other genres dissolve. It's a space where structure is not imposed but invented. By practicing experimentation in poetry, the traditional narrative arcs you usually work with can bend, twist, or shatter, giving rise to new storytelling possibilities.

 

Remember: you're not just a writer; you become an architect of experiences, crafting structures that defy expectations and engage readers on multiple levels. This isn't about abandoning clarity but embracing complexity in new, more nuanced ways. Think of it as sculpting with language, where the shape of your creation can be as impactful as its content.

 

This freedom to experiment with form does more than liberate your creativity; it stretches your skills, challenging you to think and write with flexibility. From the punch of a haiku to the sprawling journey of an epic poem, each form offers unique lessons in control, pace, and rhythm.

 

As you explore these diverse poetic landscapes, you'll discover fresh ways to captivate and communicate with your audience, transferring these innovations to your work across genres.

Diving into poetry's possibilities encourages a mindset where experimentation is celebrated, fear of failure is banished, and discovering your unique voice is the ultimate prize.

 

Overcoming Perfectionism Through Poetry

 

Are you afraid to try poetry because you think you might “mess it up” or “sound stupid”? I get it . . . but this isn’t what poetry is about.

 

Poetry is a sanctuary from the relentless pursuit of perfection that haunts many writers. In this expressive space, the concept of "perfect" writing shifts, becoming less about the flawless execution of ideas and more about the authentic, unvarnished expression of emotion and experience.

 

Poetry invites writers to shed the weight of perfectionism, allowing for a freer, more spontaneous creation process. In crafting verses, you can be free to stumble, experiment, and explore without the fear of judgment or failure, learning to value the beauty in every imperfect line and raw sentiment.

 

This liberation from the need to be perfect fuels creativity and a deeper, more meaningful connection to one's work and audience. Engaging with poetry nurtures a mindset that celebrates the imperfections inherent in all forms of artistic expression, encouraging writers to approach their craft with a heart open to the unpredictable and beautiful messiness of the creative process.

 

Want to Start National Poetry Month Off with a Bang?


Got a better idea of why all writers need to write poems? Want to jump in, but need a little help?

 

Check out the Ultimate Poetry Workbook.

 

This free resource contains poetry writing prompts, mini-lessons on writing about different topics, revision and editing tips, and ideas for generating material.

 

Click the button below to grab a copy.



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