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How to write a healing poem (for non-poets)

When I get the urge to create something that might be described as a poem, this is how I do it…

Imperfectly. As a practice of self-kindness, to take refuge from harshness.

Personally, I find that the more imperfectly I write a poem, the better. Here’s why:

I can be free from the toxic sternness of ‘shoulds’: many poems work precisely because they don’t conform to grammatical rules.

I can repeat myself as much as I need to. And use rhymes if I want, or not.

When I don’t quite understand what I’m feeling, especially when it hurts, a poem can help me name it as a colour, or a shape, or an animal, or an image that works a strange kind of therapeutic magic.

A little goes a long way: I don’t have to create a lengthy end product; a page of poetry can hold as much insight as a week’s worth of journaling.

It doesn’t have to make sense, to anyone, including me!

A poem, like a person, can’t be ‘wrong’: it’s unique and loveable, just as it is.

Messy feelings are powerful fuel for the hearth of a poem, where emotional energy can be alchemized without being rejected.

I don’t have to show my creation to anyone else for it to be worthwhile; sometimes the poems I keep to myself are the ones that support me the most.

‘Editing‘ becomes a meditation: a repetition that creates an ally for a painful moment, the remembered fragment I can recite for comfort in the dark.

Composing a poem is the perfect practice for letting myself be human, and imperfect, for giving the frightened self a voice, and offering her a healing response.

Poetry-related links for further exploration:

During the winter months, I have to move more of my practice indoors, so a creative project or an engrossing book becomes especially welcome. This post is part of my Reading and Writing for Wellbeing collection.

You can find some of my own poems on the Mindfulness Poems page, on my writing site and in my novella-in-flash The Girl Who Survived, published by Retreat West (under my pen name Dawn Siofra North).

A couple of classic poems for healing include Portia Nelson’s ‘Autobiography In Five Short Chapters’ and Rumi’s Guest House – I could substitute either one for years-worth of mindfulness ‘instruction’.

A collection I’m also really loving is House Of Weeds by Amy Charlotte Kean.

If you have a favourite poem, why not share it with others by popping the title and author into the Comments below?

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