What A Writer Needs: POETRY

Poetry has become a very hot topic in my writer's group.  We are each drawn to this literary form in similar and different ways. Some of us explore it as a way to fully realize and tell a difficult story filled with emotional content. We turn to poetry as a means to illuminate character in a way that cannot be expressed through the usual venues of dialogue, action, or expository narrative. Others use it to explain the natural world simply while conveying its complexity and beauty. Or as a framework for a short book that needs structure, clarity, rhythm, or verse.  Poetry is invaluable as a literary form that should be studied by writers of all sorts, from novels to non-fiction. 
Poetry illustrates that brevity and efficiency are more effective than meandering prose. What is the best way to tell you what I need you to know as simply and quickly as possible? What exact words will convey the feeling I want you to have at this moment in my story? Poetry reminds us of the power of ideas, of what we know and feel deeply but struggle to say aloud.  These fears, dreams, hopes that are universal among us are allowed to step into the light through poems, lyrics, scripture.  In her essay "Poetry Is Not A Luxury" Audre Lorde says, "It is within this light that we form those ideas by which we pursue our magic and make it realized. This is poetry as illumination, for it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are, until the poem, nameless and formless-about to be birthed, but already felt." 

We writers need poetry in order to find the beauty in words and ideas; to find the ancient drumbeat in the telling of our stories; to find the courage to be truthful and bold in what our writing reveals about ourselves. For an inspiring discussion on Poetry as nourishment for the soul, I encourage you to listen to the podcast "Words That Shimmer" with Krista Tippett and American Public Media at: Words That Shimmer