Why we write poetry?


Poetry is the subject closest to my heart and I feel happiest when I’m either writing it or about it. Wrote an earlier post on how a great poem might be defined and evaluated. In this post, I’d like to write about why poetry is written.

The best possible reason to write poetry is of course to get your “poetic license”. And, poetic license gives you the liberty to make as many grammatical and other errors in your writing, without being penalized 🙂 😉

Jokes apart, there are a few interesting reasons as to why people write poetry and it’s equally interesting to note what kind of people write it. After reading this article you might discover that you belong to the same category and that it might be time to experiment with your own writing skills.

Great poetry is supposed to be multi-level and inspiring etc., however, not everyone who writes poetry is great and neither are most poems masterpieces, but even those who write ordinary poems aren’t exactly wasting their time.

The main motivations behind poetry happen to be feelings or emotions. Feelings are generally defined as “short-term emotions”. As we know, there is a wide range of emotions ranging from negative to positive (sadness, despair, jealousy, joy, hope, awe etc.) and these give rise to the desire to write a poem.

For example:

  1. One motivation behind writing a poem might be to capture the highly pleasurable and positive feelings you have regarding something in the present moment and encapsulate the memory forever. Just like a photograph – a poem is nothing but a word picture.
  2. Another motivation might be to pen down negative feelings and thus reduce their intensity. This is seen very commonly in Indian films, people often burst into “sad songs” when they’re going through a tough time.

These are two examples and you can imagine many others on the same lines. So basically, poets are in the business of closely evaluating experiences and describing them.

Coming to the personality factor, poets tend to be very emotional and somewhat intense, experiencing everything that’s happening around them very vividly and in great detail. They also tend to value experiences above material objects, and hence pay so much attention to them.

That’s all I have to say today – am attaching two of my poems that are examples of 1 and 2 above. I really like this first poem – “At the concert”, not because it’s a literary masterpiece but because each time I read it, I remember the day that I attended this wonderful Hindustani musical concert. It was so amazing that I wanted to write a poem immediately after getting home. The feelings that give rise to a poem are sometimes very precious and this is what the poet tries to capture in a poem and preserve forever 🙂 🙂

At the concert

The lights dimmed
ending all conversation
the musicians stepped onto the dais
We receded into the background
awaiting an experience
They were like magicians
and the mood was to be set
while they whisked many ragas 
out of their unending net
their golden fingers
weaved the magic as
their bracelets glimmered
on their silken sleeves
they entwined the strings
percussed and played melodies of the wind
they followed all rules
yet not discarding freedom
and I heard the heavenly harmony
of music, poetry, and rhythm!
I watched their faces twisting slightly
at tiny errors, almost imperceptible
their expressions of ecstasy
when they surpassed their own expectations
be it the sarod, the tabla or the shehnai
as the music shook the stage
all else receded into the dimness
we receded into the darkness
and let them take the stage.

The next one is a short one, describing negative feelings:

Lovelorn despair

My words will never reach you
neither will this trembling voice
Nor will this anguished message
ever ruffle your serene poise

While I, lost in lovelorn despair
will pine and pen into emptiness
and pour my deepest passions
into vacuum and nothingness

Hope what I wrote made some sense? 😉





Benefits of Positive Emotions


We frequently come across diet and lifestyle tips that stress on making healthy food choices and doing regular exercise to remain fit. However, a good diet and exercise are not enough and we can further improve our fitness by cultivating a “positive attitude” – because a healthy mind leads to a healthy body.

It’s now an established fact that people who feel good and experience more positive emotions, live longer. Ten positive emotions have been defined so far and they are: joy, gratitude, hope, awe, inspiration, interest, serenity, pride, amusement, and love. Read many psychology articles when I was a student and found the ones on “positive psychology” really interesting. Therefore, I’d like to summarize one of the articles written by Dr. Barbara Frederickson, titled “The Value of Positive Emotions” in the journal “American Scientist (2003)”. Dr. Frederickson is a very well-known social psychologist who has conducted exemplary research in the field of “positive psychology”.

In general, human beings tend to have a “negativity bias”, or we tend to give more weightage to negative emotions like fear and anger, rather than to positive emotions. We do this for evolutionary reasons because negative emotions have evolved to protect us from dangers and for survival purposes. For example, we need to feel fear when we encounter a predator like a tiger, because we will flee only if we feel fear. However, positive emotions, in contrast, are not for survival purposes but lead to personal growth and development. While negative emotions narrow people’s mindsets, positive emotions broaden them. When people feel good, their thinking becomes more creative, flexible and open to information.

Feeling good is better for your cardiovascular (heart) health as well, since positive emotions are also believed to undo the lingering bad effects of negative emotions. So how do positive emotions promote longevity? Experiencing more positive emotions in the present increases the likelihood that one will feel good in the future, and also reverses the bad effects of negative emotions.

So do try to include more positivity and meaning in day to day events by expressing appreciation, love, and gratitude, even for simple things. Try to spend more time on activities like traveling, art, music, meeting friends etc. that interest you and bring you joy, inspiration, awe or hope. These small efforts can improve your mental and physical health tremendously, and increase your longevity 🙂 🙂


Fredrickson, B. L. 1998. What good are positive emotions?

Review of General Psychology 2:300–319. Fredrickson, B. L. 2000. Cultivating positive emotions to optimize health and well-being. Prevention and Treatment 3 (1).