Poetry Changes Lives - A Different Kind of Therapy

Poetry Changes Lives - A Different Kind of Therapy

One big downside of trauma and depression is that you come out of it feeling like roadkill.

To give up a long standing depression is to have a significant part of your life abruptly removed. No wonder you feel flattened and empty.

In such a state you need some positives - motivation, enthusiasm, inspiration, passion. You need something to put a bit of life back. I found my passion in poetry, like many others have since the time when Homer first wrote of 'rosy-fingered dawn lighting the wine-dark sea'.

I suffered from mild depression and unhappiness for many years and when it went away, it left a kind of void. At my lowest ebb, I started reading poetry - I think I was looking for something to fill an emotional emptiness. I got a boost from this:

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.... (Invictus by W E Henley)

And I was inspired for self-knowledge after reading this:

In me the tiger sniffs the rose.

Look in my heart kind friends and tremble,

Since there your elements assemble. (Siegfried Sassoon)

Little by little, I began to explore the huge canon of world poetry, it was like opening a Pandora's box. It soon became an absorbing interest and a passion. I found new ways of looking at things, new interests and new hope. My passion gave me back my life and it gave me inspiration.

If you don't like reading poetry, try writing it. Modern poetry can be fun. Try the 'Cut-up' poetry technique used by American writer and lifelong junkie William Burroughs, where printed material is cut up and assembled at random. Here's one I made earlier:

The book you have in your hands,

Confers the most benefits,

Dancing, singing and drinking,

By which we are able to bear

What comes to pass.

I used your product and have never looked back.

Or try writing a Haiku (a three-line Japanese poem of seventeen syllables) - just aim to express what's in your head. Here is one:

Summer's nearly here.

The swallows are returning.

All life is renewed.

That took me all of two minutes to write and can certainly be improved, but I greatly enjoyed it.

If nothing else, poetry helps you to express your feelings, something many of us do not find easy. It can help with just about any feeling, even boredom or frustration. I composed this one while driving slowly up the A9 road, in heavy traffic, towards Inverness:

Across the road and far afield

The golden landscape shines,

Although the local wind farm blocks

The view of power lines.

From all around a whooshing sound

Comes bouncing off the hills,

For far and wide the countryside

Is white satanic mills.

That dealt with quite a number of feelings simultaneously.

Poetry inspires, soothes and delights. Besides being a kind of therapy in times of difficulty, it can become an absorbing interest and much more too. It is my passion and my delight and it took me on a journey from being nothing to being something. Today I don't just write poetry, I also write about poetry and about poets; I am helping my dad write a book on the subject 'Poetry Changes Lives'.

I love the comment of English poet W H Auden: 'Poetry makes nothing happen'. Try saying that with emphasis on the last word.


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