A Journal of Islamic Studies
It should be known that Arabs thought highly of poetry as a form of speech. Therefore, they made it the archives of their history, the evidence for what they considered right and wrong, and the principal basis of reference for most of their sciences and wisdom. 
Almost four centuries earlier, Ibn Faris (d. 1005) elaborated on the same theme, but went further to comment on the quality of the poetry that was composed during the pre-Islamic era:
Poetry is the archive of the Arabs; in it their genealogies have been preserved; it sheds light on the darkest and strangest things found in the Book of God and in the tradition of God's apostle and that of his companions. Perhaps a poem may be luckier than another, and one poem sweeter and more elegant than another, but none of the ancient poems lacks its degree of excellence. 
Such was the role that the spoken word played in the life of pre-Islamic Arabs. With the emphasis placed on eloquent and articulate speech, the prominent position occupied by those who had the talent for linguistic composition, and the pride the early Arabs took in their language, it is little wonder that the Qur'an was revealed in the most eloquent, articulate, and elaborate style the Arabic language has known. The Qur'an has without doubt provided a level of linguistic excellence unparalleled in the history of the Arabic language. Theologians explain this phenomenon as God's wisdom in addressing the articulate Arabs through the medium in which they were most adept and with which they felt most comfortable. The effectiveness of the Qur'an was thus ensured by the fact that it represented a level of eloquence unattainable even by their most eloquent speakers. The Qur'an remains a book of inimitable quality, not only from a linguistic, but also from and intellectual, point of view. When Muhammad was challenged by his fellow countrymen to present a miracle, in keeping with the tradition of other prophets, he presented the Qur'an to them. The inimitability of the Qur'an is repeatedly emphasized in the Holy Book itself. Thus the Qur'an challenges the disbelievers:
And if you are in doubt as to what we have revealed, then produce a sura like unto it. (2: 23) 
A yet stronger challenge occurs in another chapter:
Or do they say: 'He forged it'? Say: 'Bring then a sura like unto it and call [to your aid] anyone you can. ' (10: 38)
The role of the poet in pre-Islamic Arabia
Except for a few proverbs, legends, and some magical and medicinal formulee, the bulk of the literary heritage from the pre-Islamic era was in the form of poetry.  Prose, which lacks the elaborate rhythm and formal structure of poetry, did not lend itself easily to memorization. Furthermore, in the absence of a developed system of writing, prose was much less easily preserved. Prose works from the pre-Islamic period were mainly genealogies (ansab) and legends dealing with inter-tribal wars (ayyam al-'arab).  Poetry therefore represents the main form of artistic expression during the pre-Islamic era.
The significance of poetry in pre-Islamic Arabia was underscored by the annual fairs, the most famous of which was the Suq Ukaz, in which poets competed for fame and recognition through recitations of poetry. The recitations constituted the main form of entertainment at the fairs. which were cultural as well as trading events.