What Is Poetry and Why Do We Read Poems?

The definition of poetry can be as complex as a poem itself. There seems to be no definite and concrete description of poetry the same way as a poem does not have an exact and precise interpretation. It is all in the experience, in the way a person looks at images and meanings that a poem conveys. Poems may not give us a familiar experience; for some, poems are about events and places that we have never been to, yet, the experience need not be familiar in order for us to connect to it. It is like looking at a strange picture and waves of conflicting emotions engulf us. According to Sharon Olds, an American Poet, “Poets are like steam valves, where the ordinary feelings of ordinary people can escape and be shown.”

Over the years, poets have shared what they thought is the meaning of poetry and even they who have a flair for magical words can only offer to sum up what they felt and thought about it. Robert Frost can be imagined as someone close to tears, quite emotional as he said, “A poem begins with a lump  in the throat.” Another author, Carl Sandburg, personifies poetry as  “..an echo, asking a shadow to dance.” The great Percy Bysshe Shelley compares a poet to that of a bird. “A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds.” 

Everyone has their own reason why we they read poems or why they write poetry. Some find relief, other satisfaction; some may find comfort and others may find pain. At the end of it all, poetry may not be as verbose as a prose but it is not as less powerful or less meaningful. On the contrary, a simple word or a single phrase can stand for a great experience or a deep emotion.

A dash—–

Or dots ………..


or even a blank space


can speak and can be heard.




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