Poetry is used as a form of communication and expression—a mode of storytelling. Whether it’s Homer’s “Iliad,” Shakespeare’s “Venus and Adonis,” Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” or even one of the most popular picture books of our generation, Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree,” poetry tells of our past, present and future.
The earliest dated poem is the 4,000 year old Epic of Gilgamesh. Similarly, visual art has existed since prehistoric rock carvings and cave paintings. Since these ancient times, poetry has evolved as a form of literature, just as visual art has developed into many mediums, created by a broad spectrum of materials.
Poetry is all around us, like song, dance and all sorts of visual art. But is poetry also an art?
The definition of art, according to Oxford Dictionaries is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”
Some might argue that writing poetry is an intellectual endeavor, rather than a creative one and that the task of writing poetry is riddled with finding rhymes and sticking to meter. However, just like putting a paintbrush to canvas, every word that a poet puts on paper is a creative and artistic choice.
When talking to my friends, I realized that some people think poetry isn’t an art form because anyone could just write a few words on a piece of paper and call it a poem.
However, the same person could draw an abstract line on a piece of paper, and it would be accepted, by most people, as art. It might not necessarily be art that is sold or appreciated, but the line drawing is art in that person’s eyes. If a writer has the intention of creating a poem, then their poetry is art. If they just write words with no real meaning, then how is it even a poem in the first place?
The art within poetry can also be seen visually and audibly. Some poets form their stanzas into images to strengthen their message. Other poets write with the purpose of reading their poems aloud. Poetry can even be sung and used as lyrics. The actual performing art of spoken word is centered entirely around poems, focused on reading them aloud to invoke emotion.
Poetry has the potential to be both a visual and performing art.
Whether it is as short as a haiku or as long as an epic, a poem should be considered art because of its emotional purpose and uniqueness. There are no forms or rules which define art, but rather, it is, in a way, subjective to the observer.
As writing and performing poetry becomes more and more popular throughout the rising generation, it is important to note the incredible individuality and expressiveness that each young poet possesses. For every word a poet chooses, they choose from thousands. Poetry is art.