8 Reasons To Give The Gift Of Poetry This Season

Pixelcharge Photos for the Poetry Foundation

Consider those sophisticated people in your life for whom purchasing a gift is always a source of anxiety. The art-lover with a keen and discerning eye; the fashion enthusiast with idiosyncratic style; the bookworm who, it seems, has read absolutely everything. What if there was one thoughtful and unique gift you could present to them this season that would engage, excite, and inspire them throughout the whole year? Reader, there is! Meet Poetry magazine.

There’s a reason why Poetry the magazine and poetry the art form are synonymous. Poetry magazine is the oldest (over a century!) and longest-running magazine dedicated to poems in the English-speaking world. And while the magazine’s history is impressive, you’d have no indication of its old-school roots by looking at a current issue. The magazine continues to publish cutting-edge writers, from the emerging and experimental to the well established and lyrical. Each issue contains a diverse array of writing that will appeal to readers of all backgrounds.

This season, you can share the art of poetry with a loved one (and/or with yourself!) all year round, by gifting a one-year subscription to Poetry magazine. The monthly magazine publishes book-length, beautiful volumes replete with original artwork, poems, essays, letters, and more. The magazine is carefully curated to appeal to the poetry expert and the casual reader alike. And best of all, Poetry is currently offering a special rate of $20 for 11 issues of the magazine, making it a gift that fits into any budget.

Not yet convinced? Here are eight more reasons to give the gift of poetry this season.

1Poetry Is Portable

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As an art form, poetry seems perfectly designed for life in 2018. With the notable exception of epic and book-length poetry (hello, Homer!), contemporary poems are generally less than one page to a few pages in length, making them the ideal literary form for the busy reader. Poems also make the perfect companion for the commuter—you can read a poem from start to finish during the length of a subway ride, and return continuously to the same poem to make new discoveries.

Poetry makes reading on the go even easier with the Poetry magazine app—free with every subscription—which provides digital access to the magazine along with additional features, such as audio recordings of the work read by the poet.

2Poems Cultivate Attention

Some poems unfold easily, creating the experience of pure pleasure, while others are densely packed puzzles made of language. In either case, poems are unique in that they engage many senses through the single act of reading, charging your imagination with the task of assembling unknown worlds. Poems, in their quiet way, draw you into a deep state of meditation, which serves to give you peace of mind in the short term, and in the long term can help you pay closer attention to the world around you, with all of its rich sensory detail.

3Poetry Offers Perspective

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Poets serve many functions in our culture. They offer social and political commentary, art and cultural criticism, keen observations of Earth and its inhabitants, and interpretations of history — to name just a few. To read a poem is to access the world through another person’s point of view. This act can open readers up to new ideas, new depths of feeling, and new ways of accessing cultures and values systems previously unknown.

4Poetry Is Timeless

It is an incredibly stressful time to be alive. The 24-hour news cycle churns out urgent stories about the demise of civility and ever-hardening political factions. Just staying updated on the scandal du jour can feel like a full-time occupation, and if you are caught up on the news, odds are you are feeling distressed. This is a time when poetry offers a desperately needed respite. Poems can soothe the mind, centering the reader’s attention on a small, beautiful detail, or focus and galvanize the mind around deeply embedded systems and patterns. Poets have been the truth-tellers of every generation, highlighting those issues that are truly urgent in their lifetime, while also taking the long view, providing greater historical context. Reading poetry offers a unique way of checking in and checking out of the world, simultaneously.

5There’s A Poem For Every Occasion

To the uninitiated, poetry might seem appropriate to a few specific occasions: Valentine’s Day, weddings, even funerals. And there’s a reason why we search for poetry at these milestones: When at a loss for words, we look to poets to articulate complex, even impossible emotions. But there are actually poems written for every conceivable occasion: poems reflecting on every human relationship, from the romantic to the familiar; poems welcoming new seasons; there’s even a great body of poetry dealing with politics, from current events to the struggles of the ancient world. Poetry magazine delivers a broad range of poetry in each issue, but you can also access poetry collections on specific themes through their website, poetryfoundation.org or peruse and subscribe to receive Poem of the Day.

6Poetry Is A Constant Companion

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Writing poetry is a solitary process, and often reading poetry is too. But poetry is a powerful medium for connecting two minds across space and time. A reader of poetry can move through the world with the voices of dozens of poets in their mind at all times. Lines from poems can come in moments of quiet introspection, in periods of grief and of love, and quite frequently while simply walking down the street. Poetry enables intimate connections with writers you will never meet, but who can feel as present in your life as your closest friends.

7Poems Unlock Creativity

The act of reading a poem requires creativity; the words on the page are the creative material, but the engaged mind is the source of the magic. By reading poetry, you’re actually involved in the creative process of making. It is not uncommon to be struck mid-poem with your own revelation, sometimes stemming directly from the poem and other times struck by something totally unrelated. Whether you work in a creative industry or not, poetry will help you to discover new ideas and break through impasses.

8Poems Are Deeply Personal

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Poetry magazine makes such a special gift because each person will experience each poem in each issue differently. The recipients will have in their mind the giver (you!), their own life-world built of experiences and references, and countless other feelings and memories that are activated by the poem. It is nearly impossible to guess what another person’s favorite poem might be, though with the eclectic selection of poems featured in Poetry, you could certainly make a game of it. Give one subscription as a gift, and help a loved one discover a common language that will last throughout the year and well beyond.

This article is sponsored by Poetry magazine.