Olivia Tejada quoted me on her blog, talking about how poetry can be used to strengthen a writer's prose.
Doing so she reminded me where my own love of poetry comes from. My father.
When I was younger I had a bad habit (as I grew older I developed other bad habits, but that's another post for another day) of speed-reading. For no good reason I can think of. I read somewhere that John F. Kennedy used to speed-read, reading down the middle of a page. It was just enough to capture the sense of a book, a topic.
I have no idea if that is actually true. The world is full of apocryphal stories. What remains true is I was reading too rapidly to pick up the spelling of words. In truth, I may well have been reading too rapidly to pick up the meaning of the words.
My father's suggestion - poetry. He explained that I would have to slow down, because every word matters in poetry. The fact of it being there, the shape, the sound, the very word order, all matter. Not, in reality, a bad way to create prose either.
My father didn't mention anything about the beauty such care creates. I think he believed I was bright enough to discover that myself. How could I not? Poetry is not this pale, ethereal thing. Even at its most spare and delicate it is a muscular, passionately living force that can grab the reader and not let go. It did with me, and hasn't.
I don't expect it ever will.