Why Write Poetry

By Dave Hood

You will not become rich by writing poetry. In fact, if you spend your days writing only poetry, you’ll become a starving artist. Most poets teach and write, or they have day jobs and write in their leisure time. Given these facts, why write poetry? There are many reasons. Here are a few:

1. Self-expression. We write poetry to express our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. We write about “the self” and/or ” the world” in relation to “the self.” We write as witnesses to the world we observe, experience, interpret.
2. Literary art. Poets write because good poetry is art–literary art. Poets view themselves as artists.
3. Pleasure. People write poetry because it is enjoyable. Anyone who fancies word play appreciates using words to create sound effects, such as alliteration or rhyme,  or making comparisons with metaphor and simile.
4. Challenge. People write poetry because it is challenging. Creating a good poem is hard work. Rarely is a first draft of a poem the poet’s best work, and so the poet must revise this first attempt. Many poets edit their poetry countless times before they feel it is worthy of submission for publication.
5. Short genre. Writers create poems in a short time. Writing a poem is also easier than writing a short story or novel because most poems are short. Sometimes, a short poem can have more meaning and evoke more pleasure than a long novel.
6. Communication. Poets write poems to be heard. They desire to share meaning and evoke an emotional response.
7. Creative writing. Poetry is one of the important and popular genres of creative writing. Writers use poetic devices—such as simile, metaphor, imagery— to write poetry that have meaning.
8. Recognition. Poets write to be recognized as strong writers. They wish to be heard and read. This is what they desire their legacy will be.

The best poetry is literary art. Countless poets have written poems that are literary art. Open “The Oxford Book of American Poetry,” and you will see memorable poems by Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and many others. Robert Frost gave the best reasons why people write poetry. A good poem “begins with delight and ends in wisdom.”


About Dave Hood

Lover of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction. Professional photographer and writer. Without the arts, life would be rather mundane, like a walk down the same old path on a dull day.
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