Over the past two weeks I've seen several articles in newspapers and magazines asking the question "Does poetry matter?" Facebook posts have shared links to these discourses that either slam down or hike up this ancient form of writing and communication.

"Does poetry matter?" 
Well of course it matters. Maybe I'm more or less of a reliable source on that belief being a poet myself. I wouldn't ridicule this mode of expression and communication since I use it most often for myself and even have a book of poetry out in the world to share the thoughts and feelings that emerge when poems are formed in blue or purple ink.

Poetry reaches to the soul. It's a way in as well as a way out. Reading poems, with their stark and magical images and lyrical, musical lines, tucks emotions deeply under the heart. The messages seem to bypass the linear thought process and go straight to the center. A poem can buoy you up when you're down and comfort and still you when you are stressed or over excited.

Writing poems is a whole other dimension that allows the poet to negotiate the long winding labyrinth of the soul. Along the circular path of poetry the poet finds solace and freedom of expression that can be found no place else. When life seems dark and unmanageable writing poetry can carve a doorway to sunnier times. And when life is filled with joy and beauty writing poems allows the poet to share that wonderfulness with the world.

Poetry--reading and writing it--is used in many therapeutic settings. I have sent my poems into the world to be read and loved or hated but not everyone needs to do that. For the clandestine poet who hides her verses in locked diaries or closed drawers, poetry can be a way to heal. It's why I have come to the conclusion I want to share this gift with others.

I intend to teach journal writing workshops but want to incorporate into each lesson a poetry component as well as an art component. For those who can't find the words they need to enter their soul there are always images. If you can't draw you can cut and paste images from magazines. And when all else fails you can play some music that reflects your mood and just spread paint across paper in abstract designs that express what dwells in your heart at that moment.

So when asked if poetry matters, I shout a loud YES!! because it matters to me, it matters to other poets and it matters to the many troubled souls who read and write poems in order to re-emerge in the world as a whole person, complete and confident and ready to move to the next step.

copyright by Renee Howard Cassese


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