Whatever you write, rhythm and the sound of words help create an impression. Listen to “The Tyger” by William Blake. In both poetry and prose, the rhythm and word choice should enhance description, not work against it. For example, a ponderous pace probably clashes with a description of a dragonfly in the air. Short, choppy words may not work when describing how the wind moves through trees. Conversely, long, complex sentences and soft-sounding words could drain the tension from a battle scene.
In fiction and nonfiction, sensory details bring a passage to life. Sensory details include sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and physical sensations. A poem distills sensory impressions into a brief moment in time. Look at all the sensory details in “Blackberry-Picking” by Seamus Heaney.
Figurative language also appears in poetry. Sometimes a poem is an extended metaphor, such as Emily Dickinson’s “Hope Is the Thing with Feathers.” Practice with metaphors, similes, and analogies in poems and apply what you learn to prose.
Punctuation in poetry (and prose) affects rhythm. Commas indicate short pauses, dashes and semicolons longer ones, and ending punctuation longer still. Listen to the role punctuation plays in “God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Use poetry to play with punctuation and see what you like.
Even if you’re the most unpoetic of writers, experimenting in a poem with rhythm, sensory details, figurative language, and punctuation will improve whatever you write.