The Positive Effects of Poetry on the Mind

From Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “The Sphinx” to  Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” poetry seems to consistently fascinate the human consciousness. In fact, certain poetry can improve memory, mood, and right-brain thinking, according to research from the University of Liverpool.

1. Poetry improves memory

In terms of the mental benefit, beats (rhythmical flows throughout poetry) and caesuras (line breaks between sets of lines) — particularly in Shakespeare’s techniques — cause peaks in brain activity, according to researchers. Those who familiarize themselves with poetry consistently move to deeper thoughts as a result of manipulating beats. For example, read this:

the beat of the wheat on the shore of bores is certainly, well exactly, the sound that abounds when the man of the clan meets the girl that whirls his dreams round and round till they meet at the beat of the drums of the hums of their hearts that certainly are not warts of the world in which we mold

The practiced mind will think past the consistent flow and thus analyze the messages within, the main ideas. Sometimes, however, the layman may ruminate, think critically, over the reason why the flow continues till the end without explaining the reason why the word choice was chosen or what the main ideas are. So, after reading over and over again the layman can acquire several tactics of thought that can help him or her think more fluidly like a poet. One of these tactics is remembering patterns. Basically, by becoming acquainted with the different styles of poetry, emotional and methodical, the novice soon goes past the surface of the poem and into the heart or essence of it– the meaning. This process of remembering styles is called memory. Thus, as a reader improves the aforementioned skill he or she is improving his or her ability to memorize. Fundamentally, when the reader continually searches for the “meaning behind the words” he or she is able to think of new ways to solve the problems of their lives.  Thus, the memory of the person is increased. Basically, the constant need to find answers leads to people thinking more about how their lives connect thus incorporating thoughts from the past, in effect helping them remember ideas in a more lucid manner.

2. Poetry increases positivity

Contemplate of Beowulf or the Iliad. Both are rhythmical sequences that tell of the motifs of competition and courage. Possibly comparable to the smooth music of the band Passenger or Bear’s Den, poetry helps quell the stresses and impulses that accumulate during the day and night thus letting the mind sleep and in a sense transcend into a higher facet of thought. In a sense, raising the positivity index.

3. Poetry improves right-brain thinking

The world today is dominated “left-brain tyranny,” focusing on details, logic, and metrics. On the other hand, the right-brain focuses on “context, empathy, and the big picture,” according to the award-winning playwright and creative consultant William Ayot. Poetry broadens imagination and creates opportunities for readers to “visualize all sorts of possible outcomes, as well. In order to manage details and data, we need imagination.

As Ira Plato attests to in his show “Science Friday”on National Public Radio, is forgetting then discovering what skipped the mind again. So, here is a possible cycle that poets may go through within their careers. When all is said and done, there is thought. When all there is to think is thought of, then there is application of those ideas. When they have all been applied, one falls back to the start of the cycle because they start speaking of the state of limbo. The message of this is to discover, create, and read poetry. For if the memory of your Kodak moments is to survive you must remember the beats, the sentiments, that create those memories.

*Co-edited by Jessica Jin and Eli Winter

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