Of course this is not an article written for poets by a poet. The poets already know the reasons why they read poetry. And even if they don’t know the reasons, al least they read it and that‘s all it matters. This article is written by someone who loves poetry and, looking back at the years that have passed, is contemplating what exactly poetry has offered him. So, here are the nine reasons why you should read poetry more often. Some reasons more, some reasons less personal. Some objective, some may be subjective…
A point of reference – Connection to the past
This is probably the most personal of all the reasons. There are points of reference in our lives. Some points of reference have to remain unalterable, otherwise they wouldn’t be regarded as points of reference. Points of reference in relation to who we are, in relation to our personality. Things that represent us, things that connect our past with our future. They could be activities, choices, events, feelings, etc. Perhaps they are reminiscences, elements of our personal identity. If you lost them, you wouldn’t define yourself as previously anymore. If they ceased to exist, the others would cease to consider you the way they considered you before.
For example, if you play the guitar and everybody knows you as the guy who plays the guitar in summertime at beach parties, this becomes for you a point of reference. You have been doing this many years already, it has been incorporated in you, perhaps since the time you were an adult. If you suddenly erased it, if you suddenly laid aside the guitar and never played it again, wouldn’t you erase a part of yourself? And if you erased it, wouldn’t your present become poorer?
Of course, I am not referring to the burdens of the past, things that burden us and don’t let us move forward. We like travelling light and it is a good thing to leave all trash behind. However, neither trash nor attachments can be considered as points of reference.
So, points of reference are totally a personal matter. The only certain thing is that points of reference in our lives need to exist. Then, what is the relationship between poetry and points of reference? Well, poetry has become an important point of reference for someone who has been reading it in his entire life. For someone that poetry has accompanied in joys and in sorrows. For someone who is writing poetry.
View life with the eyes of the poet- it’s more beautiful
I have been always saying it and here I have the opportunity to say it again. Life is more beautiful when you view it with the eyes of the poet. And what is so special about the eyes of the poet? Are they blue and almond-shaped? Are they green and delicate? No, this is not what I mean. The eyes of the poet are the eyes that will help you to perceive spirituality behind everything. Behind the joys of everyday life, behind a sunset, behind a lonely walk or a dive.
With the eyes of the poet, everything acquires a different hue, a different color, a different meaning. Everything acquires an often indefinable poeticness. This is something we need and in times of spiritual penury we need it more. It is a very important reason why you should read poetry more often. Reading poetry will help you acquire, cultivate and retain the eyes of the poet. Reading poetry will help you to enrich your life in a totally personal way.
A lack of time
The lack of time is something that someone could invoke in order to argue about why we do not read poetry. But here I say the opposite. The lack of time, that the majority of people experiences today, is a main reason why we should read poetry more often. The argument is very clear and perhaps this is the most objective reason: exactly because we do not have time!
Ten minutes in the majority of cases is enough time to read a poem. On the other hand in order to read a 300-pages book we need to spend many hours. Even if we want to watch a movie we need to spend more or less two hours. So, in such conditions of time scarcity what is preferable and less time consuming? Reading a poem, reading a book or watching a movie? The answer is clear.
And there is something more of equal importance. The lack of time means that we do not have time for wasting. It means that we do not have the luxury of spending time pointlessly. So, when a small poem can condense in a few lines more meanings that a 300-pages book, it is loud and clear, that, viewed from this perspective as well, reading poetry is more preferable in conditions of time scarcity.
Don’t lose your self-defense
However, although we do not have the luxury of wasting time, we often choose to spend it pointlessly for example by watching insipid movies or by playing stupid facebook games. Is this not absurd? Is this not contradictory?
No, it is neither absurd nor contradictory if we examine it in the frame of the epoch we are living… an epoch where sottishness prevails. The sottishness of everyday life, the sottisness of non-thinking. People today live mechanically, lost in their everyday life, lost in their personal bubblegum. In such conditions any stimulus for thinking is considered undesirable. The philosophical contemplation of life simply becomes a luxury. People become lost in an unbearable lightness, which, although sometimes is desirable, when it prevails, in the majority of cases, disorientates people.
Therefore, self-defenses are needed. Self-defenses against ideas and attitudes of a world in a state of decline that disorientate. True poetry and, if we generalize it a little, true art, comprises an essential self-defense that can shield us. It won’t make us invulnerable but at least it will protect us. It will give us a shelter when everything around us is falling apart. It can give us answers and pose new questions. But there is a prerequisite: It has to be, to the maximum possible extent, pure. It has to be authentic and honest, a product of a genuine need for artistic expression. It has to be true poetry.