Poetry and prose are of equal importance to me as a reader, and there doesn't seem to be much difference in my own writing.
I've always been interested in setting my stories against a big event, the importance of which my younger readers are slowly becoming aware of as they move into their teens.
By and large, the critics and readers gave me an affirmed sense of my identity as a writer. You might know this within yourself, but to have it affirmed by others is of utmost importance. Writing is, after all, a form of communication.
A work of art has no importance whatever to society. It is only important to the individual.
The sun shines. Readers read.