curious about how reading poetry helps us become better decision makers and collaborative thinkers?
Poetry is an incredibly powerful tool that allows us to expand our minds and our hearts so that we may more effectively and empathically process information, make decisions, and take actions that benefit ourselves as well as a greater good. The process of collaboratively creating and/or reading poetry is a unique and meaningful way to build crucial group dynamics like empathy, communication, patience, and mindful understanding.
Metaphor, a hallmark of poetic verse, is one of the most organic avenues to creative and critical thinking that the human brain regularly encounters. Metaphors require our brains to make remote associations - or, the process of understanding how, in the metaphor, two or more things are associated with each other that we don't regularly perceive to be associated. These remote associations allow us to understand the metaphor and the poem we are reading; it is through this process that we are able to make sense of the poem. This cognitive process is one that requires creative and critical thinking, and by thinking this way we expand our awareness, perception, and intuition. The more we do this, the more sustainable this way of thinking becomes.
Along with inspiring remote associations, poetry also creates a safe space in which we can practice cognitive empathy by both self-projecting and self-reflecting. When we are open to reading poetry we automatically do so with the hope of finding meaning, guidance, or at the very least something that we can relate to and understand. In order to understand the poem we are reading in this sort of meaningful way, we have to first step outside of our world and into the world presented by the poem and the poet who wrote it. To do this, we interject our self into the poem, trying to understand what we are reading from the point of view of the poet who wrote it. As we do this, we intrinsically draw upon our own personal experiences, as it is only through our own subjective experience that we are able to embody, in any way, an understanding of someone else's. This is the (truncated) process that leads to a meaningful experience with poetry and the poems we choose to read.
from Rattfink Poet For Hire
In this process of understanding, we also become aware of the shared nature of being a human, as we see ourselves reflected in the words of another. This sort of cognitive empathy creates space and understanding for the emotional empathy we need to be better, more sustainably successful (and generally well) people and partners. The more we do this, the more sustainable this way of understanding becomes.
Cognitively, the practice of reading poetry in active search of meaning instills in us an understanding of how a holistic, empathetic, and rigorously aware way of thinking allows us to access new levels of understanding and connection. When we think through new concepts or problems with this sort of meta-cognitive/mindful awareness, we see that we are able to process information, make decisions, act, and communicate more effectively.
The more regularly we read and interact with poetry and metaphor in an intentional and aware way, the more sustainable this sort of meta-cognitive awareness becomes in our day to day lives.
THE GROUP EXPERIENCE of reading poetry
While the personal experience of reading poetry is expansive and empowering, the collective experience of reading poetry is equally as powerful. The pursuit of reading and working to understand a poem as a group creates a shared experience and understanding that can extend far beyond the poem itself. By having to hold various perceptions at once, along with our own - well I think it means this, but I think it means this - group work of unpacking poems and their metaphors creates a climate of awareness and empathic reasoning that fosters good communication and group decision making.
By requiring us to think empathically - in this case, the process of putting our self in the poet's shoes as well as seeking to meaningfully understand how our group members' perception of the poem differs from our own - the group work of unpacking a poem also creates a communal sense of connection and awareness.
When the poem your group is reading is inspired directly by a shared idea/issue, this connection and awareness is heightened and can be used more immediately to access the expansion of thought or clarity of mind your group is looking for. Just imagine how powerful that poem and the process of informing and then understanding it truly could be!