Poetry as a Therapeutic Mode of Self-Expression by Thomas Martin Sobottke


poetic landscape one

Poetry has always been a powerful and emotion and intellect moving mode of artistic expression. Though not always viewed as particularly tough and masculine, all kinds of people benefit from the artistic application of words every bit as important as a painting or piece of sculpture, or song or dance, the novel, or theatrical productions.

Poetry as a means to connect ourselves more closely to our humanity and as an exploration of the self that may have therapeutic benefits in improving mental health—an outlet for what ails us, isn’t fully appreciated.

Even if no one sees what verse we write the very act of creating the work can be cathartic and healing in and of itself. When others read and feel what we wrote in any way that is appreciative the benefits to the writer increase exponentially in ways that just cannot be measured with any precision. But we know it’s a good thing.

Of course poetry is no replacement for those suffering mental illness from direct modes of professional treatment for a given condition. In those cases, it is important that the poet also be following the advice of medical professionals.

Yet poetic verse has an obvious and direct connection to our intellect, our emotions, and our sense of the artistic aesthetic we all feel via a given work as well as helping both writer and reader explore their very souls when it is really going good.

Damn it, writing poetry is just plain fun, it is play, it is a way of telling ourselves and the outside world where and how we hurt, what moves us in this life—what makes our lives significant. It is getting closer to the human experience. It is an act of creation. It is art. It is something we all can do.

Who is to say what is good or bad poetry really? Yes, art critics do. The reading public does. Yet even if we are just an unexceptional practitioner of this art form we and anyone who reads what we write is the gainer.

And even if we write great and enduring poetry there really isn’t any money in it. I have yet to encounter a billionaire poet who made his lucre by writing free verse. There is an honesty in that. What we write does not get encumbered with mere money making or greed. You can then always go to a party as a struggling artist!

So it is expression through both the written and then spoken word that is paramount. Beginning with an empty page just as a painter begins with an empty canvass. Human beings need self-expression to get at what’s itching or irritating or just plain stimulating their very souls—that innermost and most private place within the artist chooses to share perhaps only with themselves with some sort of reaction from those separate from us that tells us they got the point of what we were engaged in at the moment the poem was brought to life.

As for myself, I find the poetry of others a fascinating window into the human soul whose emotional arrows only sometimes find their mark. Yet, if only one or two or a select group of people quietly admit to themselves that a poem has moved them or helped clarify something that is troubling them or simply permits them to share the exuberance of the writer for a moment or two it is worth all the work expended to construct.

Like any of the arts, poetry has the potential to change lives and our perspective on how we relate to the common human experience.
So write. Create. Make something with words that pleases you, or soothes that innermost place. Engage in wordplay.

Our world needs poets and poetic verse. Without it we are diminished somehow. It is part of our need to give expression to those feelings, thoughts, the very conception of what we find both real and fanciful—whatever is of use to us when words hit the page.

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