How Poetry Teaches You to Heal Using the Art of Words

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How Poetry Teaches You to Heal Using the Art of Words

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Each and every day, my hope dwindles.
My hope dwindles to a place I never thought it would ever dwindle down to.
And when it dwindles down to that point, I write.
And I write more than I ever have before.
Not because it is a release, but because it is all I have left.
Nothing else matters, so I might as well express it.
It the only way I know how to manage, to survive.
I might as well release it. I might as well expose it.
I might as well let it have its way with me.
-Author: Shernide Delva


In my darkest moments, I write. In my happiest moments, I write… less, but I write. Writing has been a form of expression for me for quite some time. In third grade, my teacher made everyone in the class write poems. At the end of the year, we printed out our poems and we created our first poetry book. Still to this day, I have that book. It sits in a drawer in my mother’s nightstand. A few years ago, I reread the poems, and I remember questioning where those complex emotions came from. I had no true conception of the difficulties of life back then, yet through my writing, I was able to express my observations in a beautiful, profound way. I have been writing ever since.

Most people do not have my story. Most people do not write. However, most people really should write because if they did, they would find it to be an incredibly healing tool to have. Writing is not the answer to all problems, but it can help you gain clarity in the midst of the fog that heartbreak, depression, and grieving brings. Poetry can help record your thoughts and emotions so you can finally come to terms with it.

Both journal writing and poetry have similar benefits.  Poetry is special to me because it is a way of creating art despite the pain. There is something liberating about having something horrible happen, yet still finding a way to express it in a creative and poignant way. It assigns a temporary purpose for the pain that you feel.  Looking back on old poems can be a very healing. I imagine how I felt in those moments, and smile at the way I expressed it. Overall, I gain a sense of closure, and I move forward.

Poetry allows you to record your thoughts and forge your feelings into a perspective you can finally come to terms with. Poetry can help you grow. Reading poetry is just as beneficial because you can grow from reading the way other people express their emotions. There could be a writer out there who uses words in a way that you never identified before.

Poetry is an art form that is healing and transformative. Let’s explore why:

  1. It changes how you think.

I have no doubt in my mind that reading and writing poetry helped me with critical thinking skills and improved my writing ability. Writing poetry exercises the brain because you are forced to look at things from a multitude of perspectives. You discover the power of language using metaphors, similes, and alliterations. Most of all, you learn to analyze situations that occur in your life in a deeper way.  You learn to create something from your emotions instead of being destructive with them.

  1. It is therapeutic.

Writing poetry can be challenging in the midst of a tragedy, or emotional breakdown. In my deeper emotional moments, I did not always want to write. Writing seemed too painful, like there were not words to encompass how I felt. However, I eventually forced myself to write, and looking back I am so glad I did. Writing has become a regular part of my life. Poetry takes it a step further because it taps into your introspective side. You learn how to develop your emotions in an artistic way. It is a tool of expression.  Writing poetry can be very freeing. Free verse poetry is similar to writing in a journal. It does not need a clear structure. A free-verse poem might rhyme, but it does not have to. Free verse writing is when a poet uses a variety of techniques to express themselves with no particular structure. Free verse poetry is a powerful therapeutic experience because you are allowed to express a complex emotion in whatever way you feel.

  1. It encourages reflection on the past.

With continued writing, poetry can be a reflective experience. You can go back and re-read your poems and understand how you felt at that moment. Reading poetry out loud can be cathartic experience.  I am a spoken word poet, and I find that reading my poems aloud can bring back memories of my past, which encourages me to make smarter choices in the future.  Writing helps you understand your bad habits and develop tools to help overcome them.

Healing Through Spoken Word Poetry

Spoken word poetry is the oral art form of writing poetry. The best way to understand it is by watching it done live. Spoken word poetry has soared in popularity in the past two decades. Shows like “Def Poetry Jam” and “Brave New Voices” on HBO first brought spoken word into the mainstream. These days, spoken word artists perform at coffee shops, concert halls, and even international competitions!

“I feel incredibly confident now with who I am as a person and how I conduct myself in life because the experience of going on the stage and performing has seemingly validated the person I am,” Robert Gardham, a spoken word poet writes.

Saying your poetry out loud is a very different experience from writing it on a page. It took years for me to feel comfortable performing on stage. Even today, it can be hard to perform new pieces . The good news you can pace yourself. Start writing just for yourself today, and who knows, maybe performing can take your healing to the next level.

Overall, poetry is an art form that many people should take advantage of. It can help improve mental health and helps in the recovery process from addiction. Anyone can write poetry, all it takes it pushing yourself to express yourself. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.