Because poetry is so spare in terms of the number of words used, it makes you use language in ways you may have never used them before. It shifts your expectations about how words and language can be used.
Specific nouns and glorious verbs punctuated by the occasional adjective and adverb plus a whole lot more make poetry little lessons in the powerful use of language.
Poetry can be obtuse and vague. That makes it the reader’s job to look beyond the initial, superficial meaning of the words. Poetry often uses figurative language, which is language that evokes our senses.
Simile and metaphor do this because they can in a small space communicate big ideas without writing a novel’s length narrative.
Poetry likes to play with meaning. When allusion is used, a brief reference to something outside of the poem is used. References to other texts are common—the bible, a story from literature, or another poem.
Poetry uses the sound of language and meter, which sets up a defined rhythm as you read it. It uses rhyme to showcase the text and further define it.
A poem’s melody refers to the sound it makes and uses. Alliteration, and grammatical tools like assonance and consonance (the repetition of the same or similar vowel sounds like “fish and chips.” And the repetition of consonant sounds “click clack”) provide the melody, which you can hear when you read the poem aloud.
Poetry uses tricks and tools of language in many more ways, but you can see just from this short list how powerful a poem can be.
Good prose, your business stories, benefit from this as well. Although more words are used in a story, more of the right words make the story more readable, more captivating.
Read some poetry today and see if you can identify some of the tools above. Then select one of the tools and apply it to your prose writing. See if it livens it up, creates tension and conflict, creates a compelling paragraph or two.
Even reading poetry before writing has a positive effect. Your brain takes in the language, the rhyme if it has some, the meter, the sounds the words make and transfers that richness to your story.
Share a poem you’ve written, or business narrative you’ve shared on your blog or social media. How does it resemble a poem?