“We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.”
William Butler Yeats
Ah poetry, everyone’s taken a stab at verse at some point in their lives. Some of us fell in love with what we considered to be horrendously embarrassing expressions of the heart, and others fell away from the endeavor entirely.
You may want to reconsider picking up that pen! (Or banging on those keys.)
Here’s what Psychology Today has to say of poetry:
“There are a number of reasons why poetry may be particularly well suited to emotional expression. The use of metaphor and imagery may help the writer give voice to emotional undertones that would otherwise be hard to put into words. The use of rhythm may tap into powerful nonverbal responses, much the way music does. And the abstract nature of poetry may make it easier to take a close look at painful experiences, which might feel too threatening to approach in a direct, literal manner.”
The emerging therapies revolving poetry, fiction, writing, and the like is called “bibliotherapy-” like the aptly named bibliophile, or book fanatic.
(I really don’t have enough room for books, despite having three bookshelves, a mini bookshelf on my desk, and books in strange places. I never leave the house without at least one. But oh, the agony of bent pages!)
Although the poor quality of my work drove me personally mad, I only felt like I was in control of myself while writing. Engaging in poetry prevented me from plunging further into depression, states of mania, and lessened instances of self harm.
If so, then why not use poetry as a means to combat urges for addictive substances?
Let it all out, get to the underbelly of the problems catalyzing and perpetuating your use of addictive substances. Whatever it is– whichever emotions you want to address you’re free to go as deep as your mind will let you. I imagine it can get pretty dark in there- so let some light in!
If you need some extra incentives, there are plenty of state and national wide poetry contests you can enter– some have pesky entry fees (typically with a big payout at the contest’s conclusion) and others are freely entered. Here are a few listings to explore, and you can always find more by googling “free poetry contests 2016”:
2016 NAOMI LONG MADGETT POETRY AWARD
Freelance Writing’s Megalist of Writing Contests (169+ listings)
Here are some of my favorite Collections of Poetry:
A Formal Feeling Comes: Poems in Form by Contemporary Women
Poems that will Save Your Life: Inspirational verse by the world’s greatest writers to motivate, strengthen and bring comfort in difficult times
The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing
Skinhead by Patricia Smith (Performance piece, 3 minute video)
Share some of your poetry, or your favorite poets with us below!