From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Poetry (from the Greek "ποίησις", poiesis, a "making" or "creating") is a form of art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its ostensible meaning. Poetry may be written independently, as discrete poems, but since the dawn of mechanical reproduction of music, is with us in the form of lyrics of songs.
Poetry as an art form may have predated literacy. Some of the earliest poetry is believed to have been orally recited or sung. Following the development of writing, poetry has since developed into increasingly structured forms, though much poetry since the late 19th century has moved away from traditional forms towards the more vaguely defined free verse and prose poem formats.