Why is poetry important?

I suppose it has to be a matter of faith or belief that poetry is important rather than a matter of fact. Although I'm convinced it's still the language people speak at moments of high emotion: when something terribly important happens to someone they turn first to poetry to express it. And I find this out you know just when I meet people through doing readings or whenever I'm just out. People ask me what I do and I say I'm a poet and they'll 90% of the time say "I wrote a poem once" and if you question them a bit further you'll find they wrote the poem when something terribly important happened - they fell in love or a loved one died - and whatever the result of their writing, it interests me that their instinct was to turn to poetry to find the language to express those feelings. And if that's true, then of course it must still be important. What the question suggests though, "Why is poetry important?", is that there is a gap between people instinctively feeling it's important for their own expression of things of high importance, and their reading of poetry books, and I think that gap is a fact and perhaps a problem.


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