Poetry: a savior that comes when you least expect it

Gao Xingjian

Many of us, engaged in reading and writing are aware of transformative power of poetry, healing power and artistic value it brings to our lives. But how far does that really goes? Can you be saved by a poem?

In this enlightening interview, poet an writer Kim Rosen loudly answers, yes:

In the aha! moment that occurs when the mind bursts open—at a breathtaking metaphor or an insight or a chiming among the words—all levels of being human come into alignment. You feel a sudden integration of body, mind, heart and soul. The fragmentation that many experience in the multitasking onrush of modern life cannot withstand a good poem.

For many years she even feared poetry, thinking it was some kind of elite club, secluded for some ‘special’ and very important people. But on the verge of suicidal depression, poetry came when she most needed and literary saved her life:

In the midst of a suicidal depression, poetry poured back into my life, touching me in a way no spiritual or psychological teaching had been able to—literally saving me. The healing did not come through writing poems or even through reading them. It came when I discovered that taking a poem I loved deeply into my life and speaking it aloud caused a profound integration of every aspect of me—physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. I felt a wholeness I had never before experienced.

Further, she proposes we find a poem that really speaks to us and learn it by heart: read it loud as often as we can until it engraves somewhere deep in our soul and help flourish some better and more supportive thoughts. It can help you establish better relationship with yourself and explore sides of your being you didn’t even knew existed before. That’s what poetry does.

But what about writing your own poetry?

Dr. James W. Pennebaker, one of the most widely published researchers on the benefits of writing, says in his book, “Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions”, that writing about emotional topics improves the immune system by reducing

stress, anxiety and depression, improves motivation and aids people in securing new jobs.

About my own personal experience,  I wrote in this post how poetry came back into my life. And it happened to be that sacred, little place I was looking for to be only mine, that I could decorate, erase, fill, create or destroy the way I wanted. I didn’t have to offer any excuses, explanations or justifications for me being me.That kind of comfort is priceless. You learn to accept yourself just the way you are and you see that world isn’t some ugly place that want to make you miserable. It’s the way you see it and live it. That’s why I say: “Writing poetry helps me fall in love with the world, all over again!”

What are your reasons for having poetry in your life?

I didn’t trust it for a moment
but I drank it anyway,
the wine of my own poetry.

It gave me the daring to take hold
of the darkness and tear it down
and cut it into little pieces.

Lalla Ded. (Lalleshwari) (1320–1392)

25 Comments

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  1. I help caregivers of Alzheimer’s loved ones write poetry to make sense of this disease and through poetry, they turn into the most compassionate caregivers. One caregiver who accidentally walked into my lectures said he doesn’t read or write poetry. AT the end, he wrote a poem with this line: I don’t want to feel anything.!” He went home and wrote 30 poems in a month, all at 3 a.m. He sent me his poems and I saw this: He first cursed God, then life, then acceptances and love . HE confessed that before he came to my lecture, he was planning to kill his mother and himself out of total despair. After his mother died, he wrote these lines: I have learned to become a man. I want to feel everything.” This story is found in my I Am Somebody: Bringing Dignity and Compassion to Caregiving….

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  2. I stopped surviving and learnt how to start living. In fact, over the past six months or so, with your and others’ help. And I am a completely different person, and the people around me are finding this sometimes hard to adapt to. But I now can live, not just survive.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Thank you for this beautiful post. For me poetry is almost a meditative practice, it takes me to a very calm place deep within. When I ran a series of mini-workshops in a women’s prison on colour therapy one woman (who was prone to self-harm) spontaneously wrote a poem and gave it to me. Within the poem she traveled from a dark place into a lighter world where she could love herself again. It was a very moving experience for all of us who were there.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It was William Wordsworth , who said, “poetry is a spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions recollected in perfect tranquility”.
    I do write poetry too, and I’m most inspired when I’m most emotional.
    When those emotions surge forth in the inside of you, there is need for an outlet; and when you release them, there is no way you can ever be the same.
    Writing is therapy; writing poetry is even more therapeutic.

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  5. I can totally relate to this. I recently fell deeply in love with writing and just started doing poetry and I feel the same way as it its aiding and helping me see the creativity in me that I didn’t know was there. Great post thank you for sharing !

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I relate to what others have shared here. Writing poetry has given me a way to live in this world and it is difficult to put into words how much it means to me. I plan to share this possibility with others. Thank you for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s really inspiring. I also intend to offer other bloggers opportunity to share their experiences on my blog and that might be something of interest to you. More to come in the following days. Stay tuned and thank you 🙂

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  7. Enjoyed reading these wonderful truths about poetry. I love how poetry at its best never fails to surprise me and fill me with delight. And as you say, it provides balm to the soul. Thank you! Happy writing and reading. Best, Melissa

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It started with liking words and the way they put together, a real high from my first reading of metrical poetry. I was into it, away from it for years of magazine work, back in it now and for good. Poetry can be therapy, if only for the writer. In a really ugly depression this past February, I knocked out a Shakespearean sonnet and felt better and motivated again right after the closing couplet.

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  9. I like that you’re interested in poetry. the sad fact remAINs there are far more writers of poetry than readers. in the US there is Billy Collins and Charles Simic who have wide readerships and after that there is a ………………………………………..long long tail

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right – that’s one of the reasons I like to promote poetry on my blog, especially remarkable benefits it can bring to our lives. Only through education and by showing an example we can make at least a little change. Thanks for reading my post John 🙂

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