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Bob Holman & Margery Snyder

Writing Poems Is Good for You

By January 28, 2014

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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 writing poetry. Poets, what do you think? Are you curing your own ills when you make a poem?

from PBS:
Healing Words: Poetry & Medicine
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.”

Previous Postings on Poetry as Therapy
Poetry’s Healing Powers (2008)
Poetry Cures Ills of the Heart, Mind and Body (2007)
Poetry on the Psychiatric Ward, by Doug Holder
The Rhyming Cure (2006)

Comments

February 3, 2011 at 5:22 pm
(1) Daniel Joseph says:

Never really one who showed any interest in images and words at an early age, I arrived at the Gates of Creation when I became infirmed — “wrecked” is the word I prefer. Art is my savior. (I am now a professional doing what I love.) Poetry is my verbal manifestation of my life, my emotions, and my experience. However, I am not very prolific as a writer but when I am under Divine inspiration — which is rare — then I can write thoughtfully, and articulately. Thank you for allowing me to share this.

February 4, 2011 at 8:18 pm
(2) LeAnne Nelson Dahl says:

I have written throughout my 70+ years. But it wasn’t until my divorce in 2003 that I began writing
serious poetry…

Not only was I dealing with divorce, but I was able
to work through my feelings of having Cerebral Palsy. My book, YOU WALK PRETTY, was published in 2005 by Publish America.

Writing for me is a feeling of freedom.

February 27, 2011 at 8:51 am
(3) Amy Muniz says:

Reading poetry is fun and relaxing, like listening to music. But writing it is like a singer belting out a few lines. However dark or melodic the lines are, it’s good to get it out.

January 31, 2013 at 2:48 pm
(4) dora goldemberg says:

it´s good to let it out!
I agree fully–

It gives you a feeling of freedom to say what you like
whenever you are–
you are not expecting to be appreciated or sharing some kind of fame
you let it all out like a HOWL!

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