Why is poetry important?
Maybe it’s not? I know so many fulfilled, incredible people who don’t know poetry. I only know that it’s a part of me, important for me, (and often it’s an essential part of the poets I know), and it expands the valence of my life in subtle but meaningful ways--allows me to connect with people I can’t imagine ever otherwise connecting with including anyone who might be reading this right now. None of my close IRL friends read poetry, none of my family, but it is a part of me that exists in a separate room, a room that needs company, that, in this new pandemic metaphor, sings out the window to others’ windows, others’ rooms and tries to find the poetry part of them that begs finding. It’s important, I suppose, because the difficulty of knowing each other in any real way is our greatest and most important difficulty--I always loved Steinbeck’s advice that we try to understand each other, that “if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love”--and poetry is one of the deepest ways I’ve ever known to understand someone else.