Today we will talk about Art, and specifically, poetry. Poetry is a powerful art medium that combines words, metaphors, and images in a manner that deeply touches the human soul. According to wikipeda.com “Poetry uses forms and conventions to suggest differential interpretation to words, or to evoke emotive responses.” Today we value conventional poetry less than our ancestors did, but our musicians and moviemakers are this generation’s poets. And I would suggest, that is one reason why we value them so deeply and sometimes “worship” some of our favorite bands and musicians.
But an additional benefit of poetry is the reason it is today’s focus. If you can recall the subjects from recent blog posts — emotion, sensation and emotional regulation— then you will see where I am going with this. Poetry is a wonderful means and medium to help us Experience and Express our big emotions. (Remember those 2 E’s that help us better handle our upsetting emotional storms?) By connecting to what we really “feel” inside, we can use the energy generated, and pour it into a poem. Sharing the raw pain/anger/confusion/joy or terror that we feel, allows other humans to realize they are not alone in these states. Poetry has an intimate connecting effect, it often prompts us to say, “Oh you feel that too! Wow, I thought I was alone in this.”
As a therapist working with anxiety and trauma, I hear terrible stories from people of all ages. Some of these stories are harder to shake off than others and I feel the impact in my body. It is especially hard when working with children or teens. Some stories really trigger me because I have felt or experienced similar emotions, or even situations. In the past I got scared of being overwhelmed by all the pain that found its way into my office day after day. However, years ago, I found out with the help of a wise wizard woman, (you know who you are, and Yes, there are still those living on the planet) that poetry was a wonderful way to allow processing and releasing of these big somatic impacts. So I started writing poetry out of my own rage, confusion, and pain, and the vicarious pain of the courageous people I have the joy of journeying alongside of on this crazy path called life.
Since for many, anger is such a difficult emotion to healthily express, I will show how anger can be expressed in two poems I will use to end today’s blog. Poetry can allow a sense of playfulness, even when expressing rage. (Any poem about clients are a compilation of client stories in order to protect client confidentiality.)
Poem 1- Superhero by Wanda Brothers
When I grow up, I wanna be
a super-hero, with big black boots
wielding a lengthy whip,
and a surplus of superpowers.
My job will be my joy
chasing villains, busting bad guys,
making a safer world for us all,
enacting the eventually promised justice,
that I lack the patience to wait for.
I will be respected and feared
and little old ladies will thank me,
and bake me casseroles
for saving their grandchildren
from the swine that pollute
our earth like raw sewage,
raiding and raping with impunity
until they run into me.
Then shaking with terror,
they will pee their pants
piteously pleading for the mercy
they denied many a victim.
With studied gravity, I will demur,
and with a pretense of regret,
I will annihilate them, and then,
dance on their graves with glee.
Poem 2 – Helpless Rage for a Drowning Client -By Wanda Brothers
My rage is hidden, shy, sly.
It rises and I turn to look
and it’s already gone
like the view in the rear view mirror.
The parents are killing her, I say.
and the Bureaucratic bunglers don’t stop them
everyone looks the other way
and she is drowning in front of my eyes.
I give her a breath of clean air
here and there, but stand aside,
as she thrashes, like a good citizen,
while they murder her by inches,
and hack her soul to bits.
I want to stab them, slash them
into ribbons, and feed her their flesh
but it will do no good,
nothing does, so I take up
again, my useless vigil
and give her another breath.
- Do you enjoy poetry as an art form, if so, who is your favorite poet? If not, can you notice how the lyrics to some of your favorite songs find their way into your soul?
- I encourage you to try writing a poem or a song about the next big emotional storm that you go through. Allow the emotions and sensations to generate words and images and see what happens internally after you get them down on paper or on your ipad/iphone/imac or PC. Then, as one more big step, I suggest you share it with the person closest to you. I think you will be thrilled at how they respond.
- If you want to send me any of your poetry, feel free, I would love to read it. email@example.com