My last post about PoetryAsHealing was a let ‘me tell you what it’s all about’ kind of post. As we’re nearing the end of the the year, I’m happy to tell with you that the first series of PoetryAsHealing sessions have been a huge success. Working with MIND feels like a natural fit as so many poems in my Songs of my Soul collection address our private struggles with the big issues in life such as love, loss, major change and relationships.
Leading a group of carers through a labyrinthine selection of poetry from a range of traditional and contemporary poets, was an honour and a delight. Together we discussed an eclectic mix of themes covering diverse aspects of human emotions. Our conversations were stimulating and life-affirming. Two members of the group wrote imaginative and moving pieces of poetry during the sessions.
PoetryAsHealing is a subtle form of healing, and the best thing about it is it’s not just for poetry lovers; it’s for everyone who thinks, breathes and feels.
If you would like to sample a PoetryAsHealing workshop, please fill in the form below.
Ok. I’ve been really slow at blogging about my PoetryAsHealing project. Partly because I’ve been so busy doing it. I’m passionate about poetry and mental well-being so I inhabit a sort of heaven when delivering this programme.
PoetryAsHealing provides carers or people with mental health challenges with a unique opportunity to discuss a delicious range of topics through the poetic form. We look at carefully selected poems on a vast array of topics including religion, politics, spirituality, culture and everything in between, in a safe and nurturing environment. Who says discussions about to politics and religion only end in arguments? Pah! Over the past few weeks, we’ve discussed arranged marriages, slavery, depression, love, sexuality and many more topics. We’ve discussed the poets themselves, their poems and the circumstances in which they were written.
Together, in a safe space, we’ve shared incredible pieces of work by Sylvia Plath, Allen Gingsberg, Maya Angelou, George the Poet, Pascale Petit, Walt Whitman and many others. We’ve laughed, engaged in heated debates, shared some fantastic insights and opened up to learn more about ourselves and each other. We leave the sessions feeling optimistic and connected. It’s all part of the healing process.
Conversations between members of the group have been far-reaching and meaningful, with the aid of our poets’ voices.
It’s stimulating, intellectual, emotional and most of all it’s HEALING. How on earth can poetry *heal* you say? Well, using your voice to articulate thoughts and feelings is very powerful. Using a poet’s words, which are one-person removed, provides a perfect vehicle to enable us to speak to one another. It’s like travelling on a bus in a foreign country, where everyone else speaks a difference language, but somehow when you’re on the bus you can understand everything.
Our ‘poetry bus’ provides a mix of contemporary and traditional poetry for us to ruminate over, discuss and relish. The poems are chosen for their power to move and provoke discussion, sometimes about issues that are too difficult to discuss in a ‘normal’ context.
Anyone can join the group; being a poet is not essential! You don’t need to know anything about poetry. People come in with an open mind and leave with new words in their heads. The poets’ words help to unlock inner words that may have been locked away. Some people are inspired to write their own poems, others are content to listen and enjoy the discussion. The power of poetry to soothe, entice and encourage reflection on the world and on oneself is undeniable.
I’m honoured to share my love of poetry in this therapeutic way.
She felt like an imposter… ‘Who do I think I am, calling myself a writer?’ Where’s the deal, the positive acclaim, cosy interviews on TV sofas headphones on, waiting in radio studios for the ‘on air’ button to glow red? This is my life! she whispered to herself through frustrated tears.
Her life story was similar to many others: the longing, the personal and financial struggles and finally – the success! It’s so funny, she grinned – flirting with everyone in the studio – achieving your big writing break when you’re in your fifth decade…flutter, twinkle, wink. Everyone in the studio laughed along with her, but thought to themselves, ‘It won’t take me that long to get to the top of my game!’
Her gloomy thoughts reflected the sky-full of rain, after a string of sunny days. This mood will pass, she thought, closing her eyes in mini-meditation. I will poke my head through this web of despair, but today is a wallow sort of day. Eyeing her white bookshelves groaning with self-help books, she acknowledged the wisdom of surrender to the drunken master of insecurity. She smiled at this, reminding herself these funks were transitory and usually followed by periods of frenzied activity, globs of creativity and furious connecting with fellow travellers on the creative road.
The room was quiet, as her eyes moved from the bookshelves to the window, and rested on a smudge of yellow emerging from the grey clouds. The soft yellow grew brighter, shining directly onto the rage and beauty of her core.