Processing life through poetry

The emotions and experiences that we face in life are often hard to process. Many people purposefully avoid dwelling on them, often as an act of self-defense. Whilst facing up to the more difficult feelings and events that we encounter in life is challenging, doing so can enable us to develop a sustainable sense of self-strength, and in turn be a positive experience. Poetry is one such way in which we can make sense of, and come to terms with, all that life throws our way.

To write a poem, you must dissect, and at times re-arrange, the subject matter. Whether that be something troubling you watched on TV, the death of a loved one, or even the jealousy you have for a friend; to be able to express it through words requires you to have a secure understanding of it.

Poetry encourages us to dig deep to the roots that lie beneath. It does not care for the superfluous, but instead demands that we reveal life in its rawest form.

It is this focussed acknowledgement of an emotion or experience that allows us to process, and in turn, progress. By facing up to how or why something affects us, we become more aware of these occurrences going forward, and confident in our ability to deal with them. Having addressed and recovered from a similar event before, we will be stronger in coping with future difficulties.

Whilst writing poetry can help achieve clarity, it has an additional power in its ability to re-arrange. To re-write an event, it must be first understood in its original form, so that an effective alteration can take place. Often, effective means an alteration which conveys the desired response, and this transformed form of the reality can provide a goal for dealing with eventualities in the future.

Poetry is a powerful tool all too frequently undermined. Its value lies in the positivity it can bring to its writers, as much as its readers.

So, the next time you’re struggling to deal with one of life’s many challenges, try using poetry to express what you’re going through. It might just help you make sense of, and manage, the very thing that seemed incomprehensible.

Words by Becca Stacey, illustration by Lotta Skule