The Power & Legacy of Poetry
Happiness is sharing a bowl of cherries and a book of poetry with a shade tree. ~Astrid Alauda
My childhood’s most memorable moments were made up of pen and paper and muse. My father and I loved to play Poem-Poem! We gave each other an opening line, then built our own poems around them. Time limit: five minutes. What emerged was usually hilarious, often downright nonsensical, but sometimes, stop-you-in-your-tracks-stunning! At any rate, what we wrote was perhaps not so important as the fact that we wrote it, thinking, feeling, creating, expressing, laughing and sharing so much.
Let poetry pamper you. It is, methinks, to the soul what manure is to the rose: nourishing, enriching, life-giving.
Did You Know?
- The word ‘therapy’ comes from the Greek word therapeia, meaning to nurse or cure through dance, song, poem and drama.
- The ancient Egyptians used words written on a papyrus that would later be ingested by the patient.
- Apollo is the god of both poetry and medicine.
Poetry As Therapy
Surprise! You can actually become a Certified Poetry Therapist. To qualify, you should have studied Psychology and Literature, and of course have a passion for words.
Part of your job would be to select a poem that echoes what a person is feeling, so that it might help open a dialogue on the subject. Reading Emily Dickinson, for example, might help you realise that loneliness isn’t unique. Now this is where the therapist’s training comes in, because poems mean different things to different people, and a poem that uplifts one person might depress another.
A therapist once asked a patient how it felt to hold a published copy of a poem he’d written. The man simply replied, “I feel like I am somebody, finally.” The act of writing those poems helped him define himself.
Even more, poetry can help you connect to others, Stephen Dobyns, author of Best Words, Best Order: Essays on Poetry, says, “I believe that a poem is a window that hangs between two or more human beings who otherwise live in darkened rooms.”