Poetry and origami may have been Ray Bradbury's greatest writing teacher.

Written by Cole Schafer


Not unlike Stephen King and Annie Dillard, Ray Bradbury was under the conviction that great writing happened as a side-effect of reading.

However, his stance differed considerably on the basis of “genre”.

In Ray Bradbury’s writing memento, Zen in the Art of Writing, he gives the following piece of advice to the aspiring writer…

“Read poetry every day of your life.”

*Ray Bradbury is typing now*

“Read poetry every day of your life. Poetry is good because it flexes muscles you don’t use often enough. Poetry expands the senses and keeps them in prime condition. It keeps you aware of your nose, your eye, your ear, your tongue, your hand.”

Poetry, in a way, is like Origami.

While most of the planet’s great writers boast of the prose-crafting powers of reading, Bradbury is the first writer I’ve seen recommend reading something other than a novel.

And, not to mention, poetry of all things!

Not just poetry when you feel like it… when you’re stuck in a tremendous rut… when you’re lying naked in bed with your lover, after having made love…

Bradbury recommends reading poetry every day of your life.

He explains why through origami.

“Japanese paper flowers.”

*Ray Bradbury, once again, is typing*

“And, above all, poetry is compacted metaphor or simile. Such metaphors, like Japanese paper flowers, may expand outward into gigantic shapes. Ideas lie everywhere through the poetry books, yet how rarely have I heard short story teachers recommending them for browsing.”

My dear friend, a prolific writer by the name of Ben Cake once likened Charles Bukowski (a renowned Indie poet) to a box of chocolates… after one or two it becomes too sweet, you’ve had your fill and you’re ready to set it down.

Poets like Bukowski are this gift to writers, they’re a piece of chocolate first thing in the morning to remind you just how sweet life is.

While a day spent reading poetry may leave you with a toothache, a life of many filled with many mornings reading poetry, according to Bradbury, will almost certainly craft you into a better writer.

But, I digress.

By Cole Schafer (but mostly Ray Bradbury).

P.S. If you’re in need of some poetry, I know a decent poet.