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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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.
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The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:


“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:

“FISH STICK! I NAMED HIM FISH STICK BECAUSE HE'S A FISH STICK, OF COURSE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 59)

When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:


"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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Things I Miss Now That I'm Home From College Again

There are so many reasons to be glad that the school year is over, but if you've done it right... there are a lot of reasons to miss it too.

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So, school is over now and I've come home. As expected I was so relieved at first. No more showering with flip-flops, no more listening to screaming girls running up and down the hall, and a space that is mine and mine alone. But after a week or so of being back, there are a few things I've already started to miss.

I know that not every single person has the ideal roommate but I got really lucky with mine. Coming home I was excited to have my own space, but now when I'm doing my midnight scrolling, I'm realizing that I miss being able to talk to her about the funny things I see in that very moment. Tagging, DMing, and texting her doesn't feel the same as a long night of giggles spent together.

Also, while seeing old friends when you get home is amazing, and there is always a lot to catch up on, you do start to miss your other friends too. Being in college means that your friends are going through similar things as you are all the time. You have tests together, clubs together, and sometimes you spend way too much time procrastinating together. The bond you begin to form is one you definitely begin to miss - especially when you guys don't live close off of campus.

Coming home also means you don't have a set schedule or at least not immediately. You may come back to a previous job and that puts something on your calendar, but the free time you still have during the week can be a little too much. I know I've spent way too much time obsessing over the Tati/James drama than I ever would have at school. The routine I had at school kept me busy and entertained, and I'm honestly missing it a lot right now.

There are a lot of other things to miss too - even things you thought you wouldn't. You miss the classes, the teachers, and sometimes the food. I know I miss the environment. It isn't a perfect one, but it's full of people just trying to find their way. We are all working through the roller coaster of life and we are all stuck on one beautiful campus together while we figure it all out. I miss meeting new people at the bus stops or running into old classmates and catching up.

I guess the bonus for me is that I just finished sophomore year which means I have more time to spend at school. Come senior year, I guess I'll have to learn quickly how to deal without the things I miss - and also create a schedule so I can travel to see all of my friends, but those are all problems for future me.

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