I got into this conversation at a party a few weeks ago with a high school art teacher. She remarked that what we do is so "important," and I countered that I did not really think of it that way. The main thing I try to get across in the classroom is that poetry is fun. My pop culture juxtapositions -- the Beowulf movie, Outkast lyrics -- are meant to make that point: poetry should not be viewed as this intimidating thing, but as fundamentally the same kind of thing as comics and music and the movies and TV. But then the more I thought about it I thought that of course poetry is important or I would not be so invested in it, but that did not quite feel right. I told someone at lunch, still thinking about it, that maybe the "importance" of poetry is a side effect? Today I found the right formulation for how I feel about this subject reading Oscar Wilde, who is always right about everything, and paraphrasing him:
Poetry is far too important to be taken seriously.
[Wilde said "Life is far too important to be taken seriously" which is also true].