Poetry’s dwindling popularity is a cultural devastation


Emily Shull '25

As National Poetry Month, April brings attention to the art form.

Since ancient times, people have created poetry to express their emotions and understand the inner workings of the world around them.  In 1996, the Academy of American Poets established April as National Poetry Month to keep the tradition of writing poetry alive, according to nationaltoday.com.  Today, though schools read and interpret poetry throughout the year, its popularity in the classroom is dwindling, according to edublog.scholastic.com.  Although some find the intangibility of poetry intimidating, poetry has the ability to expose both the reader and the writer to deeper truths about themselves and the world.  Thus, schools should incorporate more poetry into their curriculums.  It is imperative that students learn to read and write poetry to preserve the art form.

Poetry opens the mind to deeper truths about the world and oneself.  Emily Shull ’25

The significance of poetry dates back to Mesopotamia, with the “Epic of Gilgamesh” as the first recorded poem.  Through the centuries, poetry has shifted and molded into many forms, shapes, and sizes, such as metaphysical poetry, sonnets and ballads, romantic poetry, and modernist poetry, according to webexhibits.org.  With each literary movement, the essence of poetry still remains the same.  Poetry is a way to connect with people through as few words as possible.  The decreasing attention in schools on this historical art form could hinder its development and popularity among future generations, becoming culturally devastating. 

In recent years, poetry has served as a form of therapy, helping people cope with difficult emotions and situations, according to writersdigest.com.  Students at Harvard Medical School and Harvard University conducted a study examining the effect poetry has on mental health.  The students concluded that poetry helps mitigate symptoms of anxiety and depression, and even decreases pain following surgery.  The study also determined that, through its self-reflective nature, poetry benefits mood, memory, and work performance.  Poetry is beneficial because it encourages people to slow down each moment and rethink perspective, resulting in perceiving the world from new angles and with deeper meaning, according to cnn.com.  Teachers should expose their students to poetry more often, not only as a way to learn language, but also as a way to step back, de-stress, and reflect on the present.

Both historically and in the present, poetry serves as a way to connect people.  Emily Shull ’25

Because poems contain few words, the emphasis on each word allows for deeper definitions to unravel.  The short, strategically crafted sentences and disregard for syntax and grammar cause people to stop and reflect on the significance of the poet’s choices, according to www.writersdigest.com.  With poetry, students can break down verses and learn that words have the power to spark emotion and change thought.  Dr. Cristina Baptista, Sacred Heart Greenwich Upper School English Teacher and Perspectives Advisor, examined the nature of poetry and its ability to pull apart grammar rules.

“The world is full of many doors with many locks, and poetry is a skeleton key,” Dr. Baptista said.  “Sometimes, too, the key is to answer questions with more questions.  Poetry is elusive, mysterious, and provocative.  It can get away with unexpected imagery, syntax, rhythm, or language.  It breaks all the rules.  It breaks all the locks.”

Reading and writing poetry also serves as a way to connect with the more profound truths about oneself and the world.  Through its rhythm, questioning, and playfulness, poetry opens the mind to philosophical concepts.  It allows both the poet and the reader to try to make sense of the world around them, according to www.writersdigest.com.  Since there is no “correct” interpretation of a poem, students can derive their own meanings, and teach their minds to think in new ways, according to theguardian.com.  Dr. Baptista commented on poetry’s ability to grasp the unknown.

“You shouldn’t have to understand every word, line, or moment of a poem to gain something from it,” Dr. Baptista said.  “It’s okay to simply like something without knowing why.  The benefit of reading and writing is that it is true liberation.  You can create your own words and worlds, your own rules and rhythms, and no one can demand otherwise.  Reading poetry, too, is an awakening when it’s thoughtful, surprising, and not cliché.  You always want to be on the lookout for a poem that makes you say, ‘Bingo, that is what I meant.’  It makes you feel less alone, less isolated.”

Dr. Baptista reflected on how adding more poetry and creative writing into school curriculums could benefit students in their academic endeavors.  Additionally, she remarked on how poets find the process of crafting a poem satisfactory and alluring.

Schools could benefit from creative writing courses, which would encourage students to be risk-taking and unafraid of “mistakes,” as poetry really allows you to pass off anything as poetry,” Dr. Baptista said.  “There’s a particular playfulness, with word, with image, with sound, with rhythm, that can galvanize different parts of the brain.  And it’s fulfilling to watch something strange and honest evolve on the page as a reflection of the self, something you don’t have to explain.”

The waning coverage of poetry in schools is concerning because poetry serves as a crucial way to learn about language, identity, and, essentially, the human race.  By reading and analyzing poems more regularly in a school setting, students will enrich their knowledge of both literary and philosophical topics.  Teachers must include more poetry in their curriculums and encourage their students to write more often in order for the art form to thrive as it has in the past. 

Featured Image by Emily Shull ’25