Wrapping up April as National Poetry Month: Why Poetry Is So Important
My father once told me that the older we get, the faster time goes. Now that I’m nearly the same age as when he said that, I could not agree more. This month, I’ve been celebrating National Poetry Month so much that I have not had much time to write essays on poetry. But, before the month closes, I’d like to send a shout-out on the importance of poetry as the voice of the soul. Reading and writing poetry can help us transform and heal.
Today, more than in previous centuries, poems seem to be easier to understand and the words and meanings often tend to more easily resonate with us. Many contemporary poems tap into real feelings and images that pertain to the human condition using easy-to-understand words. For the most part, poets are usually very observant and notice things that many of us might not readily see or comment on.
As a tween, I remember falling in love with the poetry of Rod McKuen. His writing succinctly expressed feelings I had, but was unable to clearly express. In the sixties, when I became a teenager, beat poets such as Bob Dylan, Alan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Pete Seger were popular, and they continued to express situations common to the human experience.
How Poetry Heals
Healing is often done alone or as a path to wholeness. As Sufi poet Rumi says, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” In other words, the wound is the pain and suffering we encounter that puts us in touch with our inner selves. This can be the source of our enlightenment. Poetry helps us touch the wounded part of us. Poets are memory-keepers. Some of the memories may be good ones, while others may be the result of past wounds. Sometimes it takes years for wounds to heal, and other times it takes a lifetime, if at all. It’s true that the body remembers and often times our body remembers past traumas. Poetry helps us access those wounds through words. This can lead to healing and transformation.
Poet Audre Lorde began writing and reading poetry during childhood, as a way to deal with growing up in Harlem as an African-American woman with two parents who had emotional walls between them and their children. During her childhood she secretly wrote poems in her journal, yearning to escape the tension at…