I don’t think there’s any doubt about this. At least, there isn’t in my mind.
Whenever somebody tells me:
“Hey, I want to start writing poetry”
“I used to write poetry, maybe I should get back into it”,
my heart jumps. My immediate reaction is normally:
Please, go for it! What’s the worst that can happen?
Well, I’ll tell you. You might find out a little more about yourself than you intended to. You will 100% experience self-doubt and imposter syndrome. You’ll worry that you’re just not good enough. You might even feel like you’re wasting your time. But you’re not, trust me.
Writing poetry is free therapy. I know that’s an idea that’s been used so much, it has become something of a cliché, but most clichés become so because they are true. I can tell you for a fact that writing poetry has been good for me.
Writing in general has been good for me. I kept a one-page-a-day journal in 2019 - a year in which the pandemic started, loved ones died, relationships ended and jobs were lost. It was a tough year to endure and an even tougher year to understand. Journaling helped me to mentally and emotionally process that time as I was experiencing it. Poetry does the same thing for me.
I often joke that I only write poetry about my dead grandparents. This isn’t strictly true, but I do spend a lot of time with them in my poems. I think this is because I still haven’t gotten over losing them. I’m not sure I ever will. When I write poems about them, I am grieving. I am processing what it means to live my life without them here. In reminiscing, I am keeping my memories of them alive and putting them onto paper. I believe this is good for me. When I lost my grandparents, it hurt and that is why I write about them.
I write about a lot of things that hurt me and I honestly believe that when something is painful or confusing it is okay – even good – to look closely at it and ask why. I also believe that poetry is one of the best ways to do this.
When you write poetry, especially if you are writing about your own experiences, you must look inside yourself. 80% of the writing process when it comes to poetry is thinking. Wondering why you feel the way that you do. Asking why me? Exploring every detail of a memory and pulling it apart until it is unrecognisable and has to be pieced back together before it can be spat onto the page. That is writing poetry.
Of course, I am being dramatic (I am a poet, after all). Not all poetry is like this – shit, I’ve written poems about flatulence and my dad’s hair loss too.
But that’s beside the point. In fact, no it isn’t. Writing those poems was good for me too. They make me smile. Sometimes I write a line that I find so funny I have to run to my partner and read it to her and God, it feels good.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that no matter what kind of poetry you write, no matter how personal or absurd, no matter how painful – it can be extremely cathartic, as can any artistic outlet.
Another good thing about poetry is how reassuring it can be. Whether reading somebody else’s work and realising that they feel the same way, or sharing your own poetry and having somebody tell you that it reached them and touched them in some way. The shared connection between a poet and their audience is special.
Poetry is innately human and infinitely powerful.
Read it, write it, share it.
In 1997, I was born in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. My work is often inspired by Yorkshire and the working classes, a fascination with familial and romantic relationships and most importantly, people. I’m currently in the process of moving into freelance content writing and journalism. Find out more.
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Imagery by Andraz Lazic via Unsplash