The Zone - Volume 78
This week we continue our discussion on how the arts, specifically poetry, can assist in the development of one’s resilience. Poetry engages the mind, excites the emotions, and can have a long-lasting effect on our outlook on life. From this perspective, we see how poetry can have an enormous impact on resilience and help us move forward during trying times.
Poetry builds resilience in kids and adults by fostering Social and Emotional Learning. We can gain the insight that had evaded us many times, that gives us new understanding and strength. William Butler Yeats said this about poetry: "It is blood, imagination, intellect running together...It bids us to touch and taste and hear and see the world and shrink from all that is of the brain only."
Poetry is one of the oldest literary art forms. For thousands of years poetry has been a creative vehicle for individuals and communities to express themselves. The earliest forms of poems were often sung or recited to pass on oral histories, law and ancestral information because the rhythmic and repetitive forms made accounts simpler to remember before the development of writing.
Like other forms of literature, poetry is written to share ideas, express emotions, and create imagery. From Shakespearean sonnets to Maya Angelou’s reflective compositions, poems are long-lived, read and recited for generations. Poetry is a type of literature that conveys a thought, describes a scene, or tells a story in a concentrated, lyrical arrangement of words.
Literature and poetry have been a staple in all time periods and reveal a great deal about a society to the eye of the careful reader. Poetry is also often full of allusions, which require understanding for the poem to be interpreted. In this way, poetry bridges the gaps from topic to topic and historical era to historical era, creating a greater understanding of the world.
Another expression of poetry is when it is intertwined in film and portrays a movement within our time. An example of this is, Poetry of Resilience, a documentary by Katja Esson. This film is about six international poets who individually survived Hiroshima, the Holocaust, China’s Cultural Revolution, the Kurdish Genocide in Iraq, the Rwandan Genocide and the Iranian Revolution. While each story is powerful, the strength of the film comes from the collective voice, one shared human narrative. One of the poets, Majid Naficy, who fought the Shah in Iran and then witnessed the murder of his family by forces of Ayatollah Khomeini, states, “Artistic creativity is the only thing left to you as a survivor.”
A key to this creative art form is the use of reflection. Personal reflection is so important to the process of poetry. It allows the poet to step back, and think about the purpose, meaning and expression of thought that they want to express. Personal reflection allows one to gain a greater understanding of the meaning behind their words and phrases.
In his article, 8 Reasons Why Poetry Is Good for the Soul, writing coach KM Barkley outlines some of the stimulating benefits that poetry offers.
POETRY IS GOOD FOR DEVELOPMENTAL LEARNING
In child education, children’s verbal and written skills are somewhat underdeveloped. Poetry helps by teaching in rhythm, stringing words together with a beat, helps cognitive understanding of words and where they fit. Additionally, it teaches children the art of creative expression, which most found highly lacking in the new-age educational landscape. In essence, poetry gives them a great tool for developing oneself.
POETRY IS GOOD FOR DEVELOPING SKILLS
Writing, speaking, and understanding can all be greatly influenced and nurtured using poetry. Learning rules for writing, and then breaking them with poetry, can give writing alternative beauty. Speaking poetry aloud with its beat, rhythm, and rhyme can loosen the tongue and craft a firm foundation for verbal communication. Learning to understand poetry also gives the mental fortitude, as well as the drive, to understand written communication.
POETRY HELPS IMPROVE IDEAS
Have you ever sat there and not known what to write? Picking up poetry, reading through different excerpts from classic poets can blossom ideas you never knew existed. Reading and writing poetry makes you think of new ideas but can also dramatically change the way you perceived old ones. It is a way to process experiences, visual descriptions, and emotions.
POETRY IS THERAPEUTIC FOR THE WRITER
Biblio/Poetry Therapy is a creative arts therapy using the written word to understand, and then communicate, feelings and thoughts. Poetry is typically short, but largely emotional. Writers get in touch with sentiments they might not have known they had until it was down on paper. Depression and anxiety are among the top two mental illnesses being treated with Biblio-therapy, and through poetry, one can start to understand the hindrances and blocks being formed around their mind. Expressing how one feels is difficult but very beneficial.
POETRY IS THERAPEUTIC FOR THE READER
For those who have a harder time expressing themselves, reading poetry can have a similar positive effect as writing it. Reading poetry allows one to see into the soul of another person, see what is weighing on their minds and on their hearts, and can open doors to feelings that are sometimes suppressed until that door is opened. Reading can shine a light on all those dark and hidden crevices of the heart and mind once thought permanently closed off to the world.
POETRY HELPS YOU UNDERSTAND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF WORDS THEMSELVES
By design, poetry is broken into short, but strategic sentences. By doing so, writing and reading poetry makes one understand the significance of every single word and their placement. Sometimes, without a single word, it can change the entire rhythm and meaning of the poem itself. Writing poetry forces the person to consider, and reconsider, each piece and length of their verses. In poetry, words are magic, moods, depth, and difficult. One gains the utmost appreciation for them when handling delicate sentence structures provided in poetry pieces.
POETRY HELPS YOU UNDERSTAND PEOPLE
One of the hardships of the current age is the ability to understand one another. Miscommunication and misunderstandings lead to mass amounts of frustration. Reading and writing poetry gives people the improved ability to understand others. From a writer’s perspective, you have to be able to convey the true nature of your writing to an unknown reader. That means diving deep into what parts you want them to understand, what you want them to feel and what to take home with them that will resonate long after reading. For a reader of poetry, it gives you the patience to investigate someone else’s mind and cultivate empathy for another person. Both conveying opinion and the ability to empathize are tantamount to respectable communication.
POETRY HELPS YOU UNDERSTAND YOURSELF
Ever felt out of place? Have you ever wondered why you are thinking or feeling a certain way? Ever been frustrated because your friends or partners couldn’t ever possibly understand you because you don’t even understand what is going through your head? I have found that the best way to grasp internal turmoil is to write poetry. It slows the world down around you. It streamlines your thoughts to short, direct sentences while soothing the anxiety out of your body with the lyrical style. It makes you think. It puts a spotlight on what the issues might be and forces you to answer to it logically and methodically. Poetry can give you insights into yourself that you never knew existed but always wanted to understand. There is no greater sadness than not knowing one’s self-worth, but there is no greater power than complete understanding of one’s identity. Poetry can give you that power.
Poetry offers many outlets for individual expression.
We can learn much about history from poetry.
Poetry has many positive effects on the individual.
Take time to step back and reflect on the moment.
Express yourself in writing.
Find a writer that you really enjoy and find meaningful and spend time reading their works.
Things to Limit
Not paying attention to the written word.
Quote of the Week “Poetry is a matter of life, not just a matter of language.”
~ Lucille Clifton
Poetry offers us such a rich resource to explore our minds and to take better care of ourselves.Spend some time over the next few weeks to see how healing and self-caring poetry can be
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The paraDocs are Dr. Francis L. Battisti, PhD, Psychotherapist, Distinguished Psychology Professor and former Executive V.P and Chief Academic Officer and Dr. Helen E. Battisti PhD, RDN, CDN, Chief Nutrition Officer, at SpNOD, Health Promotion Specialist, Research and Clinical Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and former Assistant Professor.
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