April is National Poetry Month.
Now, when you read the word "poetry", you may have very well thought, "Poetry?? I hate poetry! Bah Humbug!" And your inner-Scrooge is probably right; you probably had to spend hours of precious time in grade school or college (at the command of a sinister and miserly English teacher) analyzing and tearing poetry to shreds, looking up words you didn't understand (and probably didn't care about), while attempting to figure out a "meaning" that probably wasn't even the author's intent at all - for a reason entirely lost on you. If this is your experience with poetry, then I will sing in chorus with you: "BAH HUMBUG!"
However, there is another side to poetry - a purer side, a softer side, an open-form-take-from-it-what-you-will side. And for this side, I will stand-up all alone and declare poetry's virtues, benefits, and beauty.
I have been blogging recently about the benefits of reading fiction (outside of general enjoyment), and many studies and statistics on the benefits of reading regular fiction cross-over into that of poetry: a better understanding of language, heightens critical thinking skills and innovation, boosts reading comprehension and understanding, and encourages cultural and civic participation. And I haven't even touched upon stress reduction and health benefits!
However, there are even more benefits to reading poetry that don't include typical fiction:
- Poetry encourages us to grapple with (and simplify) complexity - an excellent skill for problem solving and thinking outside of the box!
- Reading poetry can help improve writing skills - from simple assignments to graduate level papers, improve your vocabulary and your expression
- Poetry also develops empathy and a fundamental understanding of the surrounding world. Leading corporations and CEO's are actively looking for candidates who not only understand the basics of business, but who are attuned to the people and the environment around them.
Here are some further articles and studies about the beneifts of reading poetry:
Poetry in America: A Study
Benefits of Poetry from The Harvard Business Review
PBS Parents: Celebrating Poetry
Poets.Org: The best way to find poems and poetry online
ALSO: Check out our National Poetry Month display at the Saddletowne Library!