Poetry allows individuals to use the nuance of language to express some of the most difficult feelings that people can experience. Poetry helps us shape our loss, heartache, and even our depression, in the form of free verse, haiku, iambic pentameter and other styles you might prefer. It allows us to confront our innermost thoughts and feelings and provides a comfortable format for sharing them with others. Below we explore the power of poetry in our modern-day society.
Poetry as a form of comfort: Reading poetry can transport you out of your own world and into someone else’s. There’s something very soothing and comforting about the repetition and rhyme. For some, it can be a source of great relief and relaxation. Poetry has even been shown to boost your mood during periods of stress, trauma and grief. Writing poetry can help you get to the heart of your thoughts or feelings that you don’t quite understand, or those that you want others to better comprehend. It can help us navigate these muddy waters, to find a kernel of truth about ourselves, humankind, even the world itself.
Poetry as a shared experience: Poets allow a certain amount of vulnerability in penning their deepest thoughts, desires, and struggles. By letting their audience in to themselves, they open the door to allow for a deep connection with their readers. And sometimes it’s just what we need to hear. Finding comfort in the knowledge of a shared pain–whether it’s through poetry, prose, or song lyrics, can help us put words to our own pain and suffering. As Coleridge once said, “poetry is the best spoken words in the best order.”
Poetry as a platform for change: While poetry can be a source of comfort, it can also be a powerful tool for societal change. Through spoken word, many have become more comfortable sharing about important topics like mental health and the internet has helped to spread these messages. Sabrina Benaim’s “Explaining My Depression to My Mother,” has nearly 4.5 million views, evokes feelings of empathy and understanding from others who live with conditions like depression and anxiety, and helps to educate and inform those who might not understand behavioral health disorders.
We all have the opportunity to give a voice to mental health in our own way. Starting an open mic night for mental health on your campus, reciting your latest poem at a local coffeehouse, or sharing a tweet or post you think will resonate with others experiencing mental health issues is a great way to keep the conversation going.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2017 and has been edited and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.