Journalists can learn a thing or two from poetry.
Poetry after all is a mode of speech that's good at packing a maximum of thought and feeling into a minimum of words.
In these days when the fast-paced news business requires ever-more compressed expression, poetry's compressing techniques are worth a close look.
Because it uses pure sound and rhythm as well as denoted meanings, poetry taps into the sensually rich parts of life. And good poetry does this responsibly. It's intensely moral because it's true to real human life. Iif it's bogus, poetry is dead on arrival, like a joke that flops. But if it works, it connects immediately because people recognize themselves reflected in the writing. It's a great writing discipline.
A greater poetic element in journalism, responsibly used, sharpens the mirror that good journalism should be. It presents a wider, deeper, and clearer view of the human beings and human activity that journalism attempts to convey.
Here's what good poetry does, and sometimes journalism too:
4. Cracks the whip
5. Has an undefinable "woo woo" quality
6. Recreates the early childhood pleasures of moon, Mom, and mud
7. Forces an epiphany
8. Imitates nature
9. Contains the music of plain speech
10. Marries sound and meaning
11. Just sounds good
12. Shatters self-important, secluded views of the world
13. Snaps you into a different state of mind
14. Sets off your indicator lights
15. Is the exact opposite of a gazebungle
16. Connects the reader with an interior "otherness," sort of like music
17. Brings the whole soul of man into activity
18. Offers the most accurate possible symbolic image of objects which when they are actually seen cause distress (corpses, worms, etc.)
19. Instructs by pleasing
20. Proposes pleasure as the immediate object of attention
21. Creates a sort of religious feeling
22. Is nothing else, so is poetic by default
23. Remembers things silently gone out of mind
24. Induces movement by precise expression
25. Transforms contemplated emotion into actual, felt emotion
26. Breathes the finer spirit of all knowledge
27. Looks before and after
28. Sees relationships and love everywhere
29. Binds together by passion and knowledge the vast empire of human society
30. Feels as if it was always intended to be written as a poem and does not feel like prose in drag
31. Achieves a certain level of song that exceeds the limits of human language
32. Causes a crackling blue spark to arc from the page to the reader's mind
33. Purges pity and terror
34. Ritualistically recalls horrible memories in loving detail
35. Is news that stays news
36. Hits you with a brick
37. Lives beautifully for a moment and then dies
38. Burns for the joy of it
39. Rings your bell
40. Lifts you off
Good journalism could do this too.