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Therapeutic Poetry

By Edited Oct 16, 2015 1 1

Writing a Poem a Day

Soon after my husband left me I was devastated. I could not grok that he was done with me. He never said "This isn't working out," he just walked out of our door one day with forty two dollars in his pocket determined to do life a using addict. Other marriages survive such havoc, ours did not. I told him I would wait two years, which I did. He did not get clean. Especially at the beginning I felt so broken hearted. I felt sorry for myself, sorry for him, sorry for what could have been. I blamed myself for not being interesting enough to hook him into the physical world. I was confused by his need to escape.

"What you need to do," a friend advised me, "is take stock of what you have lost. Only after you realize all you have lost will you be able to understand all you have gained." It seemed like good advice at the time. Anything was better than feeling like crap about myself twenty four seven. I had a hard time articulating all I had lost. I wanted to say "everything." Instinctively I knew that was a cheap shot. Had I lost a limb? No. Had I lost my son? No. I still retained ownership of a car and a home. I had a job at the time. I was making my bills.

In desperation I turned to poetry to articulate my feelings. As a teenager I had written some. I dug it out 30 years after the fact and was pleased to see that some of it still pleased me. I may have been young, yet my feelings were clear and true and pure. What was it my first boyfriend has said? "Poetry is done best by the young and pure of heart." So I took pen to paper and started writing again. At first the poems came only when the mood struck me. And my mood was usually bad, usually hysterical, often overwhelmed. I wrote about feeling angry and left behind. I voiced my confusion. I wrapped my words around his betrayal again and again until eventually I didn't feel so mad anymore. I felt sad, I felt concerned. I felt annoyed. Feeling after feeling arose like ducks on a tin circle asking to be shot down.

One day another friend of mine, a writer, asked if he could see some of my poetry. I hesitated only because in my early 20's a would be lover had told me "Only freaky girls write poetry." That comment had shut off the creative flow for 20 years. I wasn't eager to be shut down again, especially in my emotionally fragile state. He won me over by letting me read his poetry, which was intensely personal. I was flattered by his trust in me. I reciprocated. My to my surprise my friend encouraged me. My poetry was unique. I had a voice. It's quirky, someone else said.

I launched on a new journey in life. Sans husband I showed up at open mike poetry readings. While waiting for my divorce to be finalized I surged ahead with my new strange hobby. A subculture is alive and well for poetry writers. Find them at Beyond Baroque in Venice Beach, California or the Cobalt Café. I did a reading at a Barnes and Noble in Texas. In Austin is an annual poetry festival where are manner of genre meet. From songwriters to sonnet writers, poets converge at the Austin poetry festival. Many a time, in fact, a poor poem can become awesome song lyrics.

After a season of meeting poets I realized there is quite a range of poetry websites. Some are for pure amateurs where love struck teens post their goth tributes to intimacy. Others are for published and famous poets. Some people strike out and make their own blogs. I fell in with one called Poeticasides by Robert Lee Brewer mostly because I liked the vibe of poets helping poets. Here is a site that actually gives tips. The kind of stuff you could learn in a master's degree program for fine arts, and Mr. Brewer is dispersing it for free. He has in April and November "poem a day" challenges.

The first April after Howard left I wasn't quite ready to do a poem a day. I was still working two part time jobs and often too tired to fire up ye olde computer, (I hadn't bought my laptop yet.) By the time the first November rolled around, though I was ready. Poeticasides provided prompts for the poems, although one is not required to write poetry to prompt. For myself, I enjoyed the challenge of being able to write on any subject provided. Some very honest poetry came from prompts. For people who want to, you may post your poem daily during the challenge at the website. This is also not required.

The main thing is to enjoy the sheer pleasure of writing poetry. I found after the first challenge ended that I still preferred to write every day. It is therapeutic for me. Emotions once emptied can heal. Its when we stuff things, or pretend something doesn't matter that the wound continues to fester and get infected. Keeping my poetry real gave me an outlet for my authentic feelings. It didn't really matter if anyone else liked it or not, if it were published or not. On a side note, some of the poems were published, but that was the least interesting part of the process.

I found through writing poetry that I didn't need external approval any more. Once upon a time I so missed being loved by Howard. He made me feel adorable. His defection taught me I am clearly not everyone's cup of tea. I may be single the rest of my life. I love myself. I found myself loving others. I found my love was not dependent upon reciprocity. It no longer matters a bit who loves me, what matters is who I love, and how I love, and if I am being honest with myself and the universe. If you've never written poetry I encourage you to try. Its free, low calorie and endlessly stimulating.



Jun 27, 2011 3:17pm
Are you still writing a poem a day? Impressive if so. Funny, i just re-read a lot of my poems from teen years (way long ago)and i can't toss them. I, too am going thru a divorce- it's sooo tuff, but journaling does help. Thumbs up for your article.
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