On finding 4 great reasons why poetry is important

Poetry is life. Life is poetry.

How do you develop greater emotional intelligence, improve your mastery of language and become more aware of the world, all at the same time?


This morning, I came across an audio recording on Poetry Out Loud about the importance of poetry. It captures succinctly why poetry is da ish (i.e. critially important).

It’s by the American poet, Dana Gioia, whose own story reminds us that the poetry of life doesn’t always rhyme or flow the way we expect it to. Sometimes the rhyme is not in what you hear or see, but what you do and how it all connects up when you look back on it.

Gioia says he is “the only person, in history, who went to business school to be a poet.” He is a graduate of Stanford Business School who went on to become a vice president at General Foods. In 1992, he started writing full-time and from 2003 to 2008, he served as chairperson of the National Endowment for the Arts (USA). His experiences in the business world, he says, prepared him for poetry.

In the recording (see below), he offers four reasons why poetry is practical and important. Here is a summary:

1. [00:22] Poetry is a powerful way of mastering a language. Poetry improves your command of both spoken and written language…

2. [00:47] Poetry is a way of training and developing our emotional intelligence… Poetry reveals how language nearly always communicates feeling.

3. [01:04] Poetry helps us realize that language is holistic. It demonstrates that how something is said is an essential part of what is actually being said, that literal meaning is only one part of total meaning.

4. [01:30] Poetry helps both to enlarge our humanity and to give us the power to express it. One of the chief uses of poetry and all literature is to enlarge our experience to allow us to see the world through other people and other ages.

You can listen to the full audio here:



Pow. Da ish.



Photo by Ahmad Odeh

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