Why You Should Read Poetry All Year

Kathryn HaydonDeep Souls, Grow Your Creativity

Why You Should Read Poetry All Year

By Kathryn P. Haydon

Deep Souls, Grow Your Creativity

Is it just me, or is Poetry Month everywhere this year?

Poet Mary Ruefle had something to say about this:

“Every April, since the establishment of National Poetry Month, I receive a call from my local library or high school, asking if I will participate in a reading.

How about November? I always ask, and the answer is always the same:

People aren’t interested then; April is the month poetry goes public.”
Madness, Rack, and Honey)

While I appreciate the airtime poetry is receiving this month, my mission today is to convince you to care about poems into May and beyond.

Why You Should Care About Poems in May

When was the last time, in the physical world, you saw something that startled your senses?

You turned toward the scene as emotion kindled within: awe, surprise, fear, love.

One of my favorite poets, Jane Hirshfield, wrote:

“Many good poems have a kind of window-moment in them—they change their direction of gaze in a way that suddenly opens a broadened landscape of meaning and feeling.” (from Ten Windows)

Poems Open Windows in the Mind

A powerful poem ignites a thought-spark, loosening the trend of your thinking from the ruts of conformity and the latest righteous cause downloaded to your brain from the internet.

To write a powerful poem requires solitude, self-denial (of screens), time, and concentration—four ingredients that result in the highest-tier thinking that we call creativity.

Originality infused in the work affects the reader as it sparks new ways of seeing, fresh possibilities, and reinvigorated feelings.

Hirshfield again: “A good poem is a solvent, a kind of WD-40 for the soul . . . To feel oneself moved creates in itself an increase of freedom;” (from Ten Windows)

Specifically, it increases freedom of thought–freedom from thinking the way others are thinking or from the way we have thought before.

Don’t we need new thoughts in our daily lives?

Constantly we are tasked with solving problems:

  • how to respond to a surly teen or disgruntled customer;
  • how to most effectively teach a difficult concept to a classroom of students;
  • how to think up the latest market-defying innovation to move our business forward.

The best way to solve these problems is to make new combinations of thought.

Poetry can help us do this.

Poetry can help us think differently.

Why You Might Resist Poetry

That said, some people resist poetry because quite a bit of contemporary poetry is so jarring that it shakes the reader too much. Or, it’s so obscure that it keeps the reader out and makes you feel dumb for not understanding its very hidden message.

I agree.

In fact, I went through a long period during which I avoided contemporary poetry because I found the images in many poems so disturbing and depraved that I didn’t figure I needed them in my life.

But then I took a deep dive and began to discover many insightful, thought-provoking poets.

Presently, I’m on a quest to collect poetry that stirs thought without the trendy shock-and-awe approach but with failsafe original thinking that probably resulted from a poet’s solitude, self-denial (of screens), time, and concentration. 

I can share a small selection of this poetry with you through this Poetry Guide that includes favorite poetry books for beginners or experts. You can also browse the anthology I curated on the American Academy of Poets: Poems that Stir Possibility.

Of course, you can always go exploring to find just the right poems to inspire your own thought-shift.  No matter how you do it, read more poems!


Kathryn Haydon helps you maximize your creative strengths so you can do your best work. Through keynotes, workshops, and consulting, she trains individuals, leaders, and teams to find the unique spark that leads to deep engagement and productivity.

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