Poetry: A Natural Lifesaver

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Here's the second installment of Sasha A. Palmer's guest post series. Read the first on the poet's brain here.

Sasha A. Palmer

Sasha A. Palmer

Sasha A. Palmer (aka Happy) is a regular around these parts, and she writes for a living and pleasure. She shares quick writing links every Thursday at www.sashaapalmer.com and blogs at www.thehappyamateur.com.

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“If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.”
–Lord Byron

“We of the craft” can relate. In our ideal universe, poetry is everybody’s “space bar”– the most popular key on a keyboard. Smooth and jamming. In reality, it is more of a “Scroll Lock” – something weird most people choose to avoid. The techie world of today hasn’t discovered the mind boosting place Byron used to frequent.

How come?

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Re-create Your Poetry!

Recreating_Poetry_Revise_Poems

Revision doesn’t have to be a chore–something that should be done after the excitement of composing the first draft. Rather, it’s an extension of the creation process!

In the 48-minute tutorial video Re-creating Poetry: How to Revise Poems, poets will be inspired with several ways to re-create their poems with the help of seven revision filters that they can turn to again and again.

Click to continue.

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Let’s be fair. It’s not just a regular guy–it’s George Gordon–we’re talking about. No wonder he was ahead of his time. Besides, he was probably no stranger to other–popular during the Romantic era– ways of mind stimulation. In fact, his mind might have been overcrowded and in need of emptying due to laudanum – an alcoholic dilute solution of opium.

Byron makes a reference to it in “Don Juan” in 1823:

" . . . for Cupid's cup
With the first draught intoxicates apace,
A quintessential laudanum or 'black drop',
Which makes one drunk at once . . ."

Sounds like a firsthand account, doesn’t it?

Routes to happiness

Whether or not opium’s partially responsible for Lord Byron’s poetic works, let the connection between drugs and creativity remain an academic issue. Why add yet another reason to the long list of reasons we use to justify medicating ourselves? Roughly one in every ten Americans has taken some sort of antidepressant. This is a lot of supposedly happier people.

Do all those who reach for the “happy pill” really need it?

Dr. Joseph Glenmullen of Harvard Medical School wrote that although “judicious use of medication can be invaluable, even life-saving…most people can overcome the obstacles to leading satisfying lives through the help of more natural alternatives that treat our whole selves – psychological, physical, intellectual, and emotional.”

Poetry is one of those proven natural alternatives.

In April of 2014, on this very blog, Robert led us on a quest to shine some light on the value of poetry. Throughout the responses poetry sparkled like a multifaceted gem. One theme, however, was dominant – the therapeutic value of poetic expression.

PA folk echoed each other, calling poetry a “shrink”, “lifeline” and “lifesaver.”

Some of the responses were particularly personal. “I, myself, am Bi-Polar,” read one, “and poetry has more than once saved my life (literally).”

Poets are courageous. They accept–to quote Janet Martin of “Another Porch”–“the invitation to brave private fears.” They open up their hearts and share their most hidden thoughts. It’s a scary process. But it’s rewarding.

The benefits of poetry

Although the benefits of expressive writing have been a subject of scientific research, the field is still relatively new. James W. Pennebaker, the pioneer of Writing Therapy, is just 65 years old. The scope for work is vast, with new branches of knowledge bound to emerge.

Poetry Facilitation is one of such new and rapidly developing branches. A groundbreaking technique employing “the power of poetry to engage Alzheimer’s patients” is nothing short of a miracle. Even to its designer, Molly Middleton Meyer.

“Even for a word person,” she says, “it is hard for me to explain the wonder of poetry facilitation, and its therapeutic benefits.”

Molly–poet, writer, facilitator, and founder of Mind’s Eye Poetry–has channeled her grief into a mission. Having lost both parents to Alzheimer’s, she is Rewriting dementia.™ She talks to people suffering from the disease – people who are often considered “gone.” Poetry’s both the starter and stunning outcome of her conversations with “poet/patients.”

Here’s one of the hundreds of poems Molly’s helped facilitate:

If Happiness Were a Sound…

It would be loud like a beating heart,
the sound of children laughing,
church bells ringing, a choir singing,
the sound of clear blue days
when the sky sings love.

Sam, Peggy, Judy, John, Jeannine, Sallye, Bettie, Mary W., Maureen, Mary A., Tom, & Helen
Autumn Leaves assisted living memory care community, Carrollton, TX
©Mind’s Eye Poetry, 2014. All rights reserved. Quoted by permission of Mind’s Eye Poetry.

Poetry is not an elite club. Molly’s work proves that. Poetry is a place open to everyone. It boosts your mind, memory, and imagination. It soothes and heals. It makes you feel alive.

Come on over.

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