All of us have grown up with poetry - from "Roses are Red, Violets are Blue..." to nursery rhymes to greeting cards. It surrounds us nearly everywhere we go and yet, we often fail to notice and appreciate it. Some people avoid poetry because it seems complicated or difficult to understand or maybe they have negative associations with it. A closer look at poems, however, can reveal the beauty and inspiration behind them, leading to a greater appreciation for this beautiful art form.
Poetry is the language of emotions. Yes, it can tell stories or be narrative as well, but at its core, it uses emotions to convey a message. Sometimes done metaphorically, poetry engages the senses with the use of powerful images and words. The goal is to say as much as possible using as few words as possible, therefore the words used must be rich with meaning.
In order to fully appreciate and understand poetry, sometimes we have to change the way we read it. It is not to be read like a newspaper story or a textbook, merely for information or facts. When you read a poem, slow down, take your time and envision what the artist is trying to tell you through the words. Think more with your heart than with your head. What images come to mind based on the words you read? Allow your mind to be free and feel any emotions that come as well. It is an intuitive process and may feel awkward at first, but with some practice, you can learn to take in the words of a poem as easily as that of any other reading.
Writing poetry follows a similar process. Allow your mind to form images of what you want to communicate and the words associated with those images. The good thing about poetry is that there are many forms, including rhyming, free verse, sonnet or haiku that can be utilized, so you are not limited to a standard pattern. You don't have to be an artist to write a poem; you just have to allow your heart to feel it and express it.
Sadly, poetry in our culture is often overlooked as outdated or difficult to understand, but taking the time to truly appreciate it can be very rewarding. It is a form of communication that goes beyond just the words on the page, straight to the heart and soul. If you've never taken time to discover the value of poetry, you owe it to yourself to do so. Reading and, especially, writing poetry can open your heart to new expressions of emotions for yourself and those you love.