I asked a bunch of poets the above question. I’ll post their answers here until I run out or ask more poets…
Ashley Capes says:
The answer that usually springs to mind, and it sounds a little flippant, is that I write poetry because I can’t stop.
It’s almost an illness. Poetry is something I ‘have’, the way you catch a cold perhaps. And who gave it to me? Those filthy Beatniks probably.
But seriously, I don’t think I could stop. Poetry is addictive for so many reasons, and one of which, is that poetry is achievable, both in a sense of length and time. Compared to a novel, which may take a year flat out (if you don’t have a full time job that isn’t writing), a poem can be finished in ten weeks or ten days, or even ten minutes. Poetry can often fit in around all the other things you have to do in life – holding down a job and other chores.
Poetry keeps me going between all the moments that are simply so prosaic that I guess I’d suffocate without it. (Although, it’s not just some sort of literary life-preserver, I do enjoy it too).
More answers as they arrive. Feel free to submit your own, too.