Why is poetry important?
The world needs—people need—the work of the imagination, in all forms. There’s no other way to adequately understand our lives; certainly not through financial market values, the dominant mode of the times I find myself in. The language of poetry invites us to think openly, to allow uncertainty, to accept multiplicity. It asks us to bring attention instead of to pay attention, to give (it, ourselves, ideas) time instead of to spend it. Matthew Zapruder writes about poetry as a “constructed conversation on the frontier of dreaming” in his great essay on, among other things, a John Ashbery poem, in Why Poetry. He notes that poetry can deepen not only our understanding of our lives but our very experience of life, and I think he’s right.