I spend quite a bit of time thinking about poetry and wondering why it has so fully captured my attention. I also ask myself if it is a worthy vocation. Will it make any difference? Does it need to make a difference? Is reading or writing or thinking about poetry a valuable way to spend one's time? I find I am often quite conflicted in my answers. I wonder why I didn't fall in love with Bio-Chemistry or Agriculture or some other field with empirical, measurable, tangible outcomes. But poetry it is.
Here is the start of a list of what I think poetry (and literature) does that is worth valuing:
1. Pays attention to the world and encourages us to pay attention as well.
2. Praises & celebrates life
3. Acts as a witness
4. Portrays different perspectives
5. Challenges us to think deeply
6. Plays with language in a way that can be entertaining and delightful