How the Word Can Resolve Conflict, Express Love and Bring about Healing
People assume they know what poetry is, but is it more than “I’ll know it when I read it?” Let’s start with a definition: Poetry is a way to express yourself through the lens of figurative language and an abstract view of putting words on paper.
Or, as Spoken Word poet Dr. Joshua Bennett says it, and we tweet #quote:
In fact, there are as many definitions of the word as there are poets. But, in my experience, poetry is a great tool to help you understand yourself and other people. In that way, it can be therapeutic both for the writer and the reader.
On those days when I feel like nothing is right, I just write…
I Love the Words and the Flow
Reading, and writing,
Poetry for me is a form of meditation. It's a practice that's
saved my life over a multitude of moments.
Poetry is a powerful mode of expression.
It provides a way to express your thoughts,
and give your testimonies.
Poetry allows you to release the stress in your life.
Poetry is a pain reliever for your mind that allows you to get everything that you're going through off your chest and onto paper.
Poetry is free like air and
words flowtogetherasyouwrite them.
Poetry can be hard at times to decipher, dense, depending on the poet's style
Or light and airy.
Not every poem, has a story or message to it.
Poetry is not everyone's favorite type of music
but it can be the music of your own voice read aloud.
Poetry can heal the broken spirit or damaged heart
which is a great coping method.
When it comes to verse and stanza and line,
It doesn't matter how short or long the poem is.
What matters is, it's meaningful.
Nobody can control your words or tell you how they think it should go.
Poetry is about you and your life story.
Every Life, to Me, is Told through a Story
Poetry, to me, is the essential mode of expression. I'm not the only one who feels this way. There's a long line of African American women who paved the way for poets like me.
That's why, when I first read the legendary African-American poet, Maya Angelou, her words really spoke to me. When she writes about the hardships she's suffered through in life and how poetry numbed her pain, I can connect with the pain, and the reasons she needed to numb that pain.
I fell in love with poetry when I was in the fifth grade, because of the way the words flowed together, evoking emotions and a deeper message behind every piece. Once I heard my teacher reading one of Maya Angelou's piece's aloud, it really spoke to my heart.
Maya Angelou was an author, poet, actress, mother, and civil rights activist. She was best known for her autobiographical writings, especially the groundbreaking memoir about her traumatic experiences growing up, I Know Why the Caged Birds Sings. Experiencing abuse, and suffering a rape at a young age traumatized her so much that, as an eight-year-old girl, she just stopped talking.
The first poem of Ms. Angelou's that I ever read was, Still I Rise. The first stanza reads:
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
I can identify with the intensity of her feelings, this young girl, abused, lied to and stepped on. Even more, I admired how she was brave enough to overcome trauma, causing her to cast off her silence and to share her stories with the world.
As a young black woman the meaning behind her words made me realize that whatever harsh things people say, no matter what they think or do, through my words, my thoughts and prayers, I can overcome even the most challenging moments in life.
I can rise above anything.
This is empowering. Dr. Angelou is an inspiration to the marvelous me and makes me realize that, perhaps, through my poems, I can inspire others.
Do You Know Why the Caged Bird Sings?
So, for me, whenever I am going through a challenging moment in my life and need to get my troubles into the out-and-open, I just start writing. For me, poetry is solace. Poetry is a form that allows you to tell your stories, original and raw. Poetry is being free, like wild animals in a jungle. Poetry and prayer have helped me get through my darkest storms.
Poetry helps me to release any troubles from my weary mind, and it helps to heal my crushed spirit.
To Care or Not to Care: That is the Question
How can I describe the process of writing in meter and verse? For me, it is like painting with words, its beauty and power conferring on the poet an amazing way to inspire, encourage or motivate others.
The magic in making meaning in verse is taking two unlike ideas and putting them together in new and novel ways--and allowing a reader to feel something, to be curious about how the words come together to tell a story. Take, for example, the words plot and monopoly: She plotted her next move as if she were playing the game of Monopoly. What does that phrase evoke in you? Does it make you want to see into the mind of that girl who's plotting? Who is she? What's she plotting? Does that tell us something essential about what's on her mind? How does it make you feel? Why should you care?
Art, including the poet's word art, gives us a way to see things differently--where one person sees a scheming girl, another might see someone struggling to master a difficult situation.
Which is what makes poetry so transcendent. Poetry enables the writer to combine words in unexpected ways; in this way, it shocks us into recognizing something new about ourselves, our situations and the world
The Game of My Life
My teenage years; it's like a game I don't know how to win
The rules, always changing
9 o'clock curfew at 13 becomes 12 o'clock curfew four years later,
A boy can't be in my room, but can be my "study buddy."
And then there are the rules that my friends have:
"If you are my real friends, you don't date my exes, that's breaking the girl code."
"If I text you, don't take too long to text me back".
Like they just don't understand you might be busy or just not by your phone.
And you have to wear
Victoria Secret Pink
Tight skirts and dresses
And your hair has to be slayed to the Gods
You just can't win
And they say these are the years where life is supposed to be "fun and memorable."
Is it fun that I put everyone else's needs before
My own but that I don't get the same in return? How is that I am there for them when it comes to school and relationship advice but when I need support with my family issues or a cheerleader on my side
They become ghosts?
I'm a pawn in their game of popularity.
So those fun teenage years...hah!
Is it memorable when you and your friends had good
times with a few little bumps in the road but overall
you still are in a good friendship mode?
Memorable to me is being left out in the cold on that hard rusty
road and the cars that symbolizes the people who
come and go.
Like my friend of 4 years who was a sister to my face
But behind my back twisted her words like a snake.
I did not know how much Trouble she was,
And she didn't even say Sorry!
When people ask me about my most
Memorable moments of my teenage years, I will tell
Them about how somebody stabbed a knife into
My Soul and left a huge hole in my heart.
And the blood of my heart's pain and aches drip down
My face because of the trauma left by the ones I thought
I loved. I have been lied on, negativity has been spreading
Around and worst of all people have smiled in my face but
Plotted behind my back.
The Reality about being a teen is that no one is on your team.
My worst Enemy was closer than I thought, somebody who I called
My friend was a Wild card, who showed her true colors.
My teenage years like a game of Twister,
I'm being pulled in different directions
My teenage years like a game of Jenga,
You pull out one piece and life crumbles and tumbles.
So this game of life, this game of teenage life
Is a game I can't wait to stop playing.
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Want to Learn More?
- Biography.com Editors. "Maya Angelou" A&E Networks Television, 3 Jul, 2019. https://www.biography.com/writer/maya-angelou. Accessed on 10 Jul, 2019.
- "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" Internet Movie Database, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079321/?ref_=ttco_co_tt. Accessed on 10 Dec, 2015.