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Friday, January 31, 2014

Writing Poems is Good for You

The old question of whether writing poetry is effective therapy or not has been approached by Poetry with the following results. In my own experience, I found writing poetry to be a really supportive exercise when I was young and torn between my everyday world and the world I hungered for. It was a highly romantic notion and I didn't have the maturity to see life in its true light. And it wasn't all that constructive when I did! I didn't have the psychological/intellectual tools to handle it. Oh my gawd, I wrote some dreadful poems - pseudo spiritual in a paperback Eastern way (complete with sitar music and incense). One day I was Ginsburg, the next Gary Snyder - but some of it came out Rod McKuen. Awful. Thank the muses for breathing welcome fire on those pages.

But, back to the point: here are notes from Poetry

It’s commonly accepted that reading a poem can give us comfort or spark a new insight in a time of trouble. But what about writing a poem? We’ve often remarked on poetry’s curative qualities, usually speaking of its effects on a reader (see the list of past postings below)—but we’ve also think it’s worth paying attention to the healing that results from the act of writingpoetry. Poets, what do you think? Are you curing your own ills when you make a poem?

Produced by Healing Words Productions, this 2008 documentary follows “the journey of poetry therapist John Fox from room to room as he gently coaxes words from patients, many of whom have never written poetry before.... For some, poetry captures an essential truth about themselves—a memory from childhood or a moment of insight—and deepens their understanding of their lives and their illnesses. This understanding, the film shows, is the key to healing.

from Psychology Today:
Will a Poem a Day Keep the Doctor Away?” by Linda Wasmer Andrews

“On one hand, then, we have a long tradition of viewing poetry writing as a healthy mode of self-expression and a useful adjunct to mental health treatment. On the other hand, there’s a prevalent stereotype that poets are mad—and research suggests that this stereotype isn’t totally unfounded... poets—especially female poets—seem to be the most vulnerable to mental illness and suicide, a tendency that has been dubbed the Sylvia Plath Effect.... Over the past 25 years, more than 200 studies have investigated the mental and physical health benefits of expressive writing.”

from poetry therapist Perie Longo:
Poetry As Therapy

“The word therapy, after all, comes from the Greek word therapeia meaning to nurse or cure through dance, song, poem and drama, that is the expressive arts.... Though poetry as therapy is a relatively new development in the expressive arts, it is as old as the first chants sung around the tribal fires of primitive peoples. The chant/ song/poem is what heals the heart and soul.

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