Why You Should Write Poetry

By Donavon L Riley 

In the often harsh, unforgiving day to day experiences of our existence, life-altering, often devastating events become the jagged stones that pave the path of our personal biographies. These are the moments when the world, in all its ruthless chaos, bears down upon us, compelling us to confront the tempestuous, sometimes infernal realities of our life. It is within these overwhelming moments of heartbreak that poetry emerges as a fortress, a refuge for the tormented soul. Poetry is a way to navigate the memories and emotions that trouble us, providing a means to soothe our heart and mind, and enrich our spirit.

Translating Horrors into Poetry

Life is often relentless, and can be cruel and unforgiving. The emotions evoked by life-altering events and the memories of horrors experienced often threaten to engulf us in feelings of hopelessness. Yet, it is precisely within the well of this inky black anguish that poetry rises to the surface. In the turgid waters of our emotions, we reach in and grasp ahold of agony and heartache, and use their primordial, untamed energy to compose verses that resonate with the human condition.

Lessons from Dead Poets Society

In the iconic film “Dead Poets Society,” the character John Keating, portrayed by Robin Williams, imparts wisdom that transcends the screen. His words, “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for…” Keating’s encouragement to his students speaks directly to the heart of why we should embrace poetry, especially in our darkest hours. Poetry is not a frivolous pastime; it is the soul’s lifeline.

Poetry Is a Healing Balm

When the ink flows from the pen onto the page, or from our fingers onto the screen, it carries with it the weight of unanswered questions, confusion, doubts, anguish, and rage. Poetry becomes our confidant, a father-confessor who listens, without harsh judgement, to the untold hurt and harm that our hearts cannot forgive or forget. Through the act of creation, we gain mastery over our suffering, wrapping words, like tendons and ligaments, around the bare-boned memories that ultimately serve, not only as a safe home for our souls, but offer others a blueprint for constructing their own retreats. It is in the construction of this shared catharsis that healing begins.

Providing Solace to Ourselves and Others

In the darkest corners of of our hearts, there are stories that we believe must remain untold. There are also voices there that accuse, mock, and plead with us to be heard. Poetry serves as a living testimony to these stories, a guardian of what we at first imagine are unspeakable horrors, horrors that daily impinge upon us, driving us to the edge of madness and self-annihilation. Poetry provides a way out. It gives voice to the unspeakable, allowing their experiences to emerge with ours from the shadows and into the light, sincerely and truthfully. Through poetry, we honor our history and that of others, and in doing so, we provide solace to ourselves and those who have endured what most people cannot imagine.

Poetry Opens The Way From Desolation to Hope

As we craft verses from our anguish, struggles, and hope, we undertake the responsibility to build a bridge from desolation to healing and hope. Poetry becomes the vehicle through which we find meaning in the seemingly senseless, beauty in the midst of devastation, and resilience in the face of despair. Through our words, we declare to the world and to ourselves that we have not been defeated by the horrors of life but rather, we have been transformed by them. We then emerge from the depths, not as victims, but as poets who use words as weapons to conquer the tangible and intangible enemies that daily assault our heart, mind, and spirit.

And so, the power of poetry lies in its ability to transmute the horrors of our lives into a testament of human resilience and the ultimate triumph of beauty over devastation. It is a craft born from the labors of an imperfect existence, a fortress for those who are tormented by a ruthless world. Through poetry, we find catharsis, bear witness to and for the silenced, and ultimately, we reclaim our lives from hopelessness. 

So, take up your pen and write poetry, because in the act of writing you navigate the memories and emotions that trouble you, and in doing so provide a means to enrich not only your spirit but that of others. 

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

By Donovan Riley

Donavon Riley is a Lutheran pastor, conference speaker, author, and contributing writer for 1517. He is also a co-host of Banned Books and Warrior Priest podcasts. He is the author of the book, "Crucifying Religion” and “The Withertongue Emails.” He is also a contributing author to "The Sinner/Saint Devotional: 60 Days in the Psalms" and "Theology of the Cross".

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