George Alldred explains the power poetry holds in our society, interspersed with snippets of his own poetry…
Poetry is a literary pursuit which has dwindled in importance over the last few decades. Yet, its healing power is evident, especially when considering the rising number of mental health problems in our generation. Poetry is perhaps needed now more than ever.
Being considered as somewhat antiquated by our generation, poetry has fallen down the literary pecking order but it is easy to understand why. The essence of a poem comes from personal circumstance and introspective rumination, making it a far more tiresome artistic manifestation to grasp.
… poetry remains a largely untapped means of dealing with mental health problems.
Among our generation such a means of expression should be far more prevalent than it currently is. There are already signs of progress: feminist writers, such as Rupi Kaur, enjoy great success within our demographic. However, poetry remains a largely untapped means of dealing with mental health problems.
Your laugh, delicate but sweet.
A lack of sound, but it echoed just the same.
‘What is your name?’ I mimicked under my breath,
But the words would never arrive, clouding in my throat…
Poetry gives us greater perspective, allowing us to appreciate the beauty in the world around us. It’s a rather cliché point but, in writing poetry, your perspective has to broaden and narrow at the same time. Your world slows down as you soak in the essence of the subject matter. You search for the beautiful simplicity in not only the environment, but also in the emotions you’re trying to describe.
It streamlines our goals and our broader philosophy and we begin to appreciate life for what it is, rather than what it should be…
Here, we tower like titans, master of many, liberated by our own likeness to nature.
Here, we spread our limbs, we open our heart, we exist once more.
And for just one moment,
we are able to disappear…
Poetry helps us deal with problems of melancholia, helping us to make sense of a world in which we struggle to find meaning. This is a leading problem in our generation, fermented by an ultra-competitive and consumerist environment. We often feel reduced to what we buy (and how this reflects our identity). This identity formation is probably the largest preoccupation among our demographic, but poetry simplifies these concerns. It streamlines our goals and our broader philosophy and we begin to appreciate life for what it is, rather than what it should be; to live our own ideal of life, rather than a life through the warped prism of consumerism.
The clock in the corner chimes;
mocking with every tick.
A constant reminder for those trapped;
left behind, in the endless procession of time.
Poetry also helps to deal with the pain of loss. We have already established that it helps to better articulate emotions, but this articulation also brings greater clarity to our thoughts, consoling those with grieving hearts. Poetry gives a beautiful resonance to melancholia, as if painting a striking image of a raging landscape. It empowers you and gives you the strength to respect the beauty of your findings.
I would therefore recommend everyone to write something, regardless of confidence, ability or conviction…
The wind, sifting its soft, feathery fingers through my hair,
the thunder, muffling even my most rancid reflections,
the waves, cleansing my soul of the darkness which has swallowed it whole,
oh my boy, the frivolous dreams I once possessed.
Poetry is liberating; it is both introspective and retrospective, both beautiful and pure, both melancholic and joyful. Poetry helps precisely because mental health is a personal battle, requiring both self-love and personal meditation. Poetry not only clears your emotions, articulating them, but also makes you respect them for their subtle beauty and their glorious complexity.
I would therefore recommend everyone to write something, regardless of confidence, ability or conviction. It doesn’t need to be academic or complex in order to be beautiful; sometimes the rawest of compositions can be the most pure.
In short, poetry is a deeply overlooked medium of personal healing and remains relevant now among our generation as ever.