Five Benefits of Poetry

Five Benefits of Poetry

This literary genre isn't as scary as it seems
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I have been in love with, and writing poetry, ever since the seventh grade when I wrote my first piece during some leftover time after a math tutoring session. I remember the day like it was yesterday. That day, while working with my math tutor, Ms. Tedesco, I had miraculously gotten all the math problems correct and after finishing with that day’s set, had no other work to do. As a result, Ms. Tedesco said that I could have free time, free time during which I wrote my very first poem. The piece was a short sixteen lines detailing the roller coaster that is life, aptly titled “Life.”

I have since lost the poem, but I remember it well. It was the beginning of my poetic journey, one that I have been on ever since.

I have been in love with poetry since age thirteen. But I know many others who are not. I have friends who have been in Masters level English classes who are afraid of this genre, who believe it is too difficult to access. I have teacher friends who claim they have no idea how to teach poetry. I have friends, ones who normally love English, who hear the word poetry, and run in the other direction. I don’t get it, they say. It’s too hard, they say.

It's true. Poetry is hard. It’s probably the hardest of all the genres. But also the most rewarding. Read on to find out why.

1. Reading poetry makes you a better public speaker.

Unlike most other genres of writing, poetry was made to be read or told out loud. Because a major component of poetry is rhythm, reading it out loud forces the reader to become more aware of language dynamics: where to pause, where to speed up, where to put emphasis. It forces the reader and/or writer to employ all of his or her powers of persuasion. They can’t just tell their listeners the words, they have to make them believe the words. Poetry—besides singing, perhaps— is the one art form that requires those who work with it to tell a story using their whole body, not just their mind.

2. The varying forms force you to be concise.

It has been psychologically proven that the human mind can only process about 5-7 pieces of information at a time. Because poetry is written in smaller chunks, (It can be longer in the case of ballads or epics, but even then those pieces are divided into cantos or other types of movements), it forces the reader to convey a lot of meanings and information using few words. Take a haiku, for example. The entire poem is three lines long with exactly 17 syllables. No more, no less. If the writer deviates from the form, they forfeit writing a haiku, instead opting to write something else entirely.

3. The constraints force you to use stronger vocabulary.

Because most poetic forms require the writer to use a specific number of lines and syllables, that writer most delve into the depths of his or her vocabulary in order to choose words that both convey meaning and adhere to syllable count. The writer has to do away with useless words like “good” and “fine” and instead opt for ones like “melancholy” and “exuberant.” Not only are the words more syllables—which can translate to more concise lines—but each conveys specific rather than general meaning.

4. Poetry can be combined with other art forms.

Yes, most writing can be combined with other art forms, but poetry is special. Poetry can be set to music, can include illustrated prints. (See prints from William Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”) Poetry can include dance, instruments, multiple languages. It can be solitary or interactive. It has no limits.

5. Poetry fosters empathy by allowing you to connect to yourself and others.

Poetry is perhaps the most personal of all writing types. In order to write poetry well, one has to be willing to search the depths of hers or his soul, to write about what’s truly happening underneath the surface. All those things that make you feel uncomfortable—put them in a poem. All those places that you think you can’t go—go there. There is no other way. You have to write about your truth(s) so that others know that they, too, can write about theirs. Only by speaking the truth can honest connection be made.

Cover Image Credit: The Odyssey Online

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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It's The Most Wonderful Time For  College Students

Let's get this bread.

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It's a new semester, and time to get it together. Especially if you had an okay or horrible semester for fall, whether something personal or grade-wise, it's a new start, with new classes and professors and a clean slate. So, as the people say, let's get this bread.

Spring semester, easily a little better than fall semester because we are all one step closer to summer break and some are one step closer to graduating and being released into the real world. *Que tears for all our senior friends leaving us* But probably for most, if not all, spring semester is what we need.

After a crazy fall semester, I know I needed a fresh start especially since some of my classes made me want to break down in tears every day during the fall (at my math class). With the start of a new semester and no math class for me to spend a lot of my attention on, I am hoping for a less stressful semester where I can focus evenly on each class without stressing myself out too much.

Math is one of those subjects where I have to put tons of focus and energy on it but I felt as if I have never struggled as much as I did last semester. Honestly, yes, I believe that in a lot of cases how you perform in a class is due to how you handle it individually, but in some cases, it can also be how the professor teaches it. And boy, did my math professor teaching style clash with how I learn.

BUT, with math now behind me, hopefully, spring semester will sort of just be a little bit of a breather and I can enjoy it more than I did in the fall. And I know I am not the only college student who has a struggle like I did, it's part of life and all we can do is our best.

Spring semester can be a new, clean slate for all us.

One thing I love about starting a new semester is how I can take the bad habits I had last semester, and improve them over the course of spring. I always try to improve my learning and study habits from previous semesters to continue helping me grow.

Spring is all about new and fresh beginnings, and the start of a new semester can give us hope from bad, past semesters. And sometimes what causes a bad semester isn't even our performances in the class. Sometimes, life comes at you and knocks you off your feet. Sometimes, it's more personal rather than class.

What happens on in our personal lives outside of college definitely can take a toll on our overall health. I know students who have lost family members, or just had a difficult time readjusting back to college life, or just were in a funk struggle to land on their feet throughout the semester, and I get that. I have my bad days too.

With a new semester on the horizon, we can all take a breather and work towards a less stressful and more wonderful spring semester to enjoy.

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