How Poetry Can Help You Live a Better Life

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Poetry in a Nutshell

Poetry is more than just rhyming and prose that is in meters and verse. It is an art form. It is something that can not be judged by its cover and can not be critisized to the point where it just “sucks.” Poetry is about expression. Poetry expresses the way we feel on a certain subject through imagery and other senses. It helps us deal with our daily problems, be it good or bad.

The emotion which is put within the poem brings it life. A poem without emotion is not a poem at all but simply prose. Poetry is what makes us feel happy or sad, mad or gleeful, loving or broken hearted. Poetry is life on paper. It does not need to be of a certain subject or even rhyme.

Poetry is poetry. It has its own mind. If it flows good if not… it needs work. The rules can be bent but not broken. Our life is our life and no one can tell us what we have been through but ourselves. We know best not some stranger reading our poems. Our poetry is our life, not what someone says.

Rhyming in poetry is not always the best way to express yourself. Rhyming actually takes away many words that could have been used. If you try to rhyme it cuts your dictionary into little pieces. It doesn’t need to be this way, choose flow over rhyme.

As a result of this, poetry is defined as a way of putting flowing words together in meter and verse to show emotion or tell a story.

Why Do I Write Poetry?

I use words as others use algebraic signs: with meticulousness, with caution, with the precision of the artisan. I sculpt in words. I stop. I tilt my head. I listen to the echoes. The tables of emotional resonance. The fine tuned reverberations of pain and love and fear. Air waves and photonic ricochets answered by chemicals secreted in my listeners and my readers.

I know beauty. I have always known it in the biblical sense, it was my passionate mistress. We made love. We procreated the cold children of my texts. I measured its aesthetics admiringly. But this is the mathematics of grammar. It was merely the undulating geometry of syntax.

Devoid of all emotions, I watch your reactions with the sated amusement of a Roman nobleman.

I wrote:

“My world is painted in shadows of fear and sadness. Perhaps they are related – I fear the sadness. To avoid the overweening, sepia melancholy that lurks in the dark corners of my being – I deny my own emotions. I do so thoroughly, with the single-mindedness of a survivor. I persevere through dehumanization. I automate my processes. Gradually, parts of my flesh turn into metal and I stand there, exposed to sheering winds, as grandiose as my disorder.

I write poetry not because I need to. I write poetry to gain attention, to secure adulation, to fasten on to the reflection in the eyes of others that passes for my Ego. My words are fireworks, formulas of resonance, the periodic table of healing and abuse.

These are dark poems. A wasted landscape of pain ossified, of scarred remnants of emotions. There is no horror in abuse. The terror is in the endurance, in the dreamlike detachment from one’s own existence that follows. People around me feel my surrealism. They back away, alienated, discomfited by the limpid placenta of my virtual reality.

Now I am left alone and I write umbilical poems as others would converse.

Before and after prison, I have written reference books and essays. My first book of short fiction was critically acclaimed and commercially successful.

I tried my hand at poetry before, in Hebrew, but failed. Tis strange. They say that poetry is the daughter of emotion. Not in my case.

I never felt except in prison – and yet there, I wrote in prose. The poetry I authored as one does math. It was the syllabic music that attracted me, the power to compose with words. I wasn’t looking to express any profound truth or to convey a thing about myself. I wanted to recreate the magic of the broken metric. I still recite aloud a poem until it SOUNDS right. I write upright – the legacy of prison. I stand and type on a laptop perched atop a cardboard box. It is ascetic and, to me, so is poetry. A purity. An abstraction. A string of symbols open to exegesis. It is the most sublime intellectual pursuit in a world that narrowed down and has become only my intellect.”

Why Write Bad Poetry?

For Good Relationships with Yourself

You can write bad poetry, can you not? Why do so? Here are three reasons:

1. If you think it doesn’t have to rhyme or be any good, you will write a poem each time you are struck by awe, struck in the gut, struck in the heart for good or bad.

2. If you write some, you will read one of mine. (below) Then you will start a heartfelt relationship with me.

3. You will soon afterward discover what is really important to you in all your relationships.

Many people assume that poetry is hard to understand or boring. Some academic poems are boring because they are simply showing off erudition. But poems about momentous or weird little experiences that strike the poet are wonderful to hear. Some are better than monologues from well known stand-up comics.

Poetry likes a strong feeling and the courage to express it with the power of that feeling. No holding back. Flat out condensation of the moment.

When you write bad poetry you feel gloriously alive. You improve all your relationships.

Eventually, you may re-write and turn your poems into some really good stuff.

Poetry won’t make you money, but it will make you rich. Here’s one of mine that set me free. See if you can tell how it set me free. If you have any questions, write to me.

CRAVINGS by Evelyn Cole

I want to put out bowls of candy/to welcome every guest/ all kinds of sweets/ dripping with decadence

to offer red wine with legs/ stuffed grape leaves, Retsina, Italian prawns/carrot flan, Incan fire dip

and succulent salads /chilled ready to serve/ spinach, asparagus, pistachios /all fresh aphrodisiacs

marinated meats/ ready to grill to any taste/ from rare to rubber/ spiced tofu for some

a full shelf of pies I’ve just baked /with perfect crusts /Tiramisu and mocha mousse too /and apricot clafoutis

I have a craving for candy I don’t eat/a passion for cooking concoctions others won’t touch/ a yearning for money to give it away/


A craving to please /to ease

Why? A craving to give /to live?

Ah, Do I need to put out /or die?


That last stanza took me by surprise.

Here is what the former U.S. poet laureate, Stanley Kunitz, says about poetry. It’s wild and wonderful.

Saturated with Impulse Stanley Kuntiz from “The Braid

“So much of the creative life has its source in the erotic. The first impulse is strongly erotic, but then one becomes reflective–a philosophic human being, an explorer–and then as one grows older and older there’s a need to renew that energy associated with erotic impulse.

“A poet without a strong libido almost inevitably belongs to the weaker category; such a poet can carry off a technical effect with a degree of flourish, but the poem does not embody the dominant emotive element in the life process. The poem has to be saturated with impulse and that means getting down to the very tissue of experience. How can this element be absent from poetry without thinning out the poem?

“That is certainly one of the problems when making a poem is thought to be a rational production. The dominance of reason, as in eighteenth-century poetry, diminished the power of poetry.

“Reason certainly has a place, but it cannot be dominant. Feeling is far more important in the making of the poem. And the language itself has to be a sensuous instrument; it cannot be a completely rational one. In rhythm and sound, for example, language has the capacity to transcend reason; it’s all like erotic play.

“That’s the nature of aesthetic impulse, aesthetic receptivity. Whether you’re walking through the garden or reading a poem, there’s a sense of fulfillment. You’ve gone through a complete chain of experience, changing and communicating with each step and with each line so that you are linked with the phenomenon of time itself. The erotic impulse is so basic to human experience that we can never be free from it, even in old age.”

So, dear reader, go forth and write poetry.

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