Learning From Poetry

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No matter what kind of writing you do, reading poetry can be a great way to improve your writing skills. The principles of poetry can be applied to nearly every kind of writing you do. Let’s take a look at what we can learn from poetry.

1. Poetry teaches word economy.

In a poem, not a single word is wasted. Poets strive for finding the most effective words to convey each thought, emotion or idea.

2. Poetry uses powerful imagery.

Poems are the epitome of “show, don’t tell.” In a poem, you don’t have a lot of time or space to spend narrating or telling the reader what’s happening. Poets create strong visuals for their readers, truly giving the reader a glimpse of their subjects.

3. Poetry is inspiring.

Love it or hate it, poetry elicits powerful emotions. A well-crafted line of poetry can stick with us for a long time. Sometimes, a poem or even just a memorable line, can make us want to write about that. The emotional response we have to the poem can often lead to an outlet for our own ideas.


There are a number of sites that offer daily poetry either delivered to your inbox or by RSS feed. The Writer’s Almanac from Garrison Keillor offers daily poems as well as historical information. Poetry Daily is another daily poem site. If you prefer, you can get get a haiku a day from Daily Haiku or tinywords. You can also check out any number of poetry anthologies. One of my favorites is Risking Everything, edited by Roger Housden.

If you really hate poetry, try reading some Dr. Seuss or Shel Silverstein! You can also look to song lyrics, which have been a great source of inspiration for me.

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3 thoughts on “Learning From Poetry”

  1. There is another type of writing that can help with improving your own, and that is comedy. Books such as Seinfeld’s SeinLanguage – where the writing is exactly how he delivered the stand-up. In particular, word economy is huge in stand-up comedy. for some reason, it’s not funny if it’s wordy.

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