Unlike Melissa, I read poetry (and loved doing so) prior to ever putting pen to virtual paper. In my experience, the poet should expose himself to a variety of poetry, (traditional/rhyming and free verse). My personal preference is for rhyme, however there exists wonderful free verse work and one can learn something by reading diverse forms.
on Writing Forward:
I started writing poetry just after hitting my teens and quickly fell in love with the artistry, wordplay, and rhythmic challenge of crafting poems.
A few years later, it occurred to me that I should be reading poetry, so I looked at a few books of poetry but found nothing that spoke to me. For years afterward, I continued to write poetry but did not read the works of established poets. Fortunately, I eventually went to college, where I was forced to read poetry and finally found works and poets that resonated with me.
It’s not unusual to encounter young poets who don’t read poetry. Some say they don’t want their work to be influenced by other poets, but many have faced the same difficulty I did: they haven’t been able to find poetry that they like.