Opinion: Students should write poetry even if they think they can't

Writing poetry, whether it's good or bad, is beneficial for self expression

If “a grain of poetry suffices to season a century," as the poet José Martí once wrote, then what would a bit of poetry do for the average student and the few years we spend in college? 

I write poetry for whatever occasion — even if what I write isn’t going to be published and even if it’s not what many people would call “good." The point of poetry isn’t always to release it to the public eye for scrutiny or for praise. As cheesy and as repetitive as it may sound, the point of poetry is to express yourself through the art of words.

“Poetry, like any art form, is a way of creating power for oneself,” said Jake Friedman, the marketing and outreach specialist for the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, expressive writing can ease stress and trauma for some individuals. 

Not to exaggerate, but I've written hundreds of terrible poems.

Some that don't follow the structure of a haiku or any other established form of poetry, some that when read aloud are off-beat — but nevertheless, poems that have allowed me to solidify what I'm thinking onto paper. I've only been in college for less than two years but writing little, and sometimes long, poems have gotten me through difficult times. 

"Everybody writes terrible poems,” said Friedman. “I think the only difference between someone who writes a good poem and someone who writes a bad poem is that the person who writes a good poem just kept writing.”

As students we have to deal with a lot of stress. Some of us have hectic schedules, chaotic family lives and are dealing with a plethora of emotional issues. Once in awhile, it doesn't hurt to sit down, breath and let your pen do the talking. 

"It's a way of saying something that you can't really say anywhere else," Friedman said.

Even music that is popular with ASU students today, such as rap and hip hop, is heavily poetic. 

One such example is Kendrick Lamar's DAMN album which won a Pulitzer prize and contains literary devices that can be broken down. It should be seen as poetry. If you listen to Kendrick Lamar and appreciate the lyrics, you also appreciate his method of creative writing.

Poetry is not limited to writing about your emotions, it can also be used for discourse about topics you are passionate about, like political issues. 

Writers can also take inspiration from the thousands of Youtube videos of young slam poets, how to's, culturally themed verses and even recordings of historical figures reciting poetry. There's a lot of content available to access and to reference before trying it out on your own. 

Your poetry doesn't have to be a so-called Shakespearean epic or published in a magazine, whatever you feel your writing abilities are, it's beneficial as a student to give it a shot.

Even for someone who has expertise in poetry, Friedman jokingly admitted that he still feels like he has no idea what he's writing down when he sits down to write. 

"It's healthy to feel that way, it's the creative process," he said.

Students should give poetry a try, even if they feel like it may not be worth their time or that they're not good at it. Students can benefit greatly from utilizing poetic expression as a tool. 


Reach the columnist at amisais@asu.edu or follow @comradealexia on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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