You may feel like groaning when you hear the word “poetry.” It can be a very common reaction whenever the topic is brought up. Many people expect the whole genre of poetry to sound like old-timey famous poets like Emily Dickinson. However, poetry actually comes in many voices and forms, and it can help with mental health.
For me, writing poetry is the most effective therapeutic activity that I engage in. Often when I get into the poems, I find myself writing things that I did not even know. For example, I may throw in something that I did not even fully know that I was upset about. When I finish a poem, I sit back and read what I wrote, and I am usually surprised at what I find. I am able to put down words to what I am feeling, and it feels like a release of stress. Writing poetry can feel like you just had a much-needed vent session, and you get something creative out of it, which is a definite plus.
Slam poetry is another way to go. With slam poetry, poets perform their pieces in a very emotional way, typically using their inflection, volume, and arms to add flow and emphasis to their poems. I have performed in a slam before and it is a very powerful experience. It feels amazing emotionally and it is very easy to slip into a natural performance.
If the thought of writing poetry or performing it scares you, start with watching or reading poetry. I have quite a few books of well-loved poetry that are dog-eared and full of highlighted stanzas. Frequently when I reread these books, I find myself crying and letting myself think about something that I have been pushing down. I have the same reaction when watching slam poetry. Watching or reading someone opening up emotionally is a moving experience and it can help you relate and feel less alone in your struggles. Also, when you are immersed in other’s poetry, it is easier to feel inspired and start your own poetry.
Button Poetry on YouTube is a great place to begin if you have an interest in slam poems. They update constantly with new videos featuring many poets performing. As far as written poetry goes, I love Crush by Richard Siken for contemporary poetry and “100 Selected Poems by e.e. cummings” for classic poetry.
You can also be creative with the way that you write, like buying a nice journal to record your poems in. I prefer to use a laptop, just because it is much easier to work with when you want to edit your finished piece. But I have always admired those who jot down their stanzas in pretty notebooks and would recommend them if you are looking to begin writing! If you purchase an aesthetically pleasing journal that you love to look at and carry around, it may inspire you to put it to good use!
Environment is also helpful when finding writing inspiration. Personally, I like to be in my bedroom, and I turn off all my lights besides the string lights around my room. This is how I feel the most comfortable, and with the low-lighting, I am more relaxed and reflective. Some people like to write outside – they find inspiration in sitting among nature. Maybe you write best on a park bench or sitting in a bed of flowers. Others enjoy writing in public places like coffee shops or libraries; the bustle of people constantly around them can help generate creative ideas.
Do you write poetry? Do you have any suggestions for poetry books or slam poetry videos? Please share below!