Exploring Poetry – The Healing Power of Poetry

June’s poetry blog is a post on the healing power of poetry. I have a guest come and post on my blog each month talking about poetry so be sure to check out all the Exploring Poetry posts in the series and follow for more! Today I welcome Morgana Shea! (It’s also an Insecure Writers Support Group Wednesday post so check out the end for what IWSG is all about!)

Morgana is a dedicated mother and wife to her husband, Gabe. She enjoys spending her time with her four, “womb gremlins”, gardening, and writing. Morgana has been published in several Poetry Society of Indiana’s anthologies and is the author of Hopeless, a poetry chapbook that highlights hope in ordinary, everyday experiences. She is the first vice president of Poetry Society of Indiana.

Visit Morgana’s website morganashea.com

Morgana Shea – The Healing Power of Poetry

“Medicines and surgery may cure, but only reading and writing poetry can heal.”

— Jacinta V. White

Poetry is a written art form that offers a cathartic mode of expression. It helps us see situations from another’s perspective and cultivates a consciousness of empathy. We can become more self-aware, pinpoint our deepest thoughts and feelings, and even manage those thoughts, feelings, or despairing ordeals through the power of poetry. Processing traumatic events and trying to cope and heal can be exhausting, but poetry can aid trauma survivors in expressing their thoughts with words. When confronted with comments and pressure to articulate my feelings on abuse, I found it arduous to respond in the moment or know how to convey the hurt to others. However, by reading the works of both famous and local, classic, and contemporary poets, then reflecting and writing, I was able to articulate my vulnerability, such as in my poem, “Forever Etched.”

Forever Etched
IT, the thing.
The atrocity that was done to me.
Etched on my soul.
Sliced through my skin and carved deep into my bones.
Even though my flesh has healed, IT is still there.
IT leeches out sometimes in tears, grief pouring from my eyes…
Other times IT bursts forth, lashing a whip of hot anger.
As others tell me to let IT go, to forgive, heal, move on already,
I wrestle—
IT drips off me, a perpetual wound,
forever bleeding.
I plead with IT to go,
try to wash the stains of blood and broken innocence.
But how, HOW can you heal a wound etched into your soul!?  

Poetry and Emotions

Poetry can also help us convey feelings of joy and satisfaction. We craft joyful emotions in poems to help others relate, celebrate, and feel. We can appreciate those good moments while we experience the words and meaning of a poem. It promotes gratitude. When I wrote my poem, “Unexpected Beauty” from my poetry book, Hopeless, I intended to point readers to find hope in ordinary, everyday experiences. 

Unexpected Beauty
Bleak days and bleak dreams, if I dream at all. Mundane lulling of appliance buzz; the hum of daily ritual song. Chapped hands sting as the dishwater runs. Then suddenly, like a splash of cold water on a boiling summer day, it happens.

It—the unexpected beauty breaking through, interrupting tedious tasks. An infant’s giggle, glistening eyes growing wide. A butterfly pauses on my shoulder, slowly folding, then relaxing her wings. A whiff at the grocery store of my love’s familiar cologne. Yes, there are bleak days and bleak dreams, if I dream at all. But these tastes of beauty make the days into a sweeter song. 

Poetry as an Outlet

In addition to highlighting our joy, poetry also serves as an outlet to relieve the pressures of work, life, or parenting by finding humor in them. As a mother of four, my children’s love makes my heart overjoyed, but I can get overwhelmed with the duties and messes children create. It wasn’t long ago that I had a one-year-old who would often take off his diaper during nap time and, as a result, cause the worst, smelliest messes. Through poetry, I was able to let off some of the steam from the situation and preserve the memory instead as a cherished, humorous one in my poem, “Poop Ball.”

Poop Ball
It had to come from hell!
I couldn’t help but yell!
As I saw IT on the wall,
and my toddler rolling a poop ball.
He thought himself quite funny,
making a brown bunny.
I knew I was going to retch,
as he said, “Quick, fetch!”

With poetry, we find we are never alone in our experiences, breaking the barrier of isolation and shame and feeling a sense of belonging. Like other forms of literature and art, poetry serves as a conduit between people of varying backgrounds and beliefs and softens social barriers. This channel creates not only individual healing but healing for communities and beyond. It is a way to speak truths so that the heart understands and yanks the mind to its knees in submission. The poet Maya Angelou demonstrated this perfectly in her poem, “Still I Rise,” by articulating tones of defiance and self-assurance while maintaining an inspirational mood. She emphasized her point of view using confidence and repetition and was able to reach a massive audience to influence the culture of America. “Still I Rise” is one of Angelou’s beloved poems collected in her third volume of poetry, And Still I Rise: A Book of Poems, published by Random House in 1978.

Poetry is a means of catharsis, cleansing our minds, our hearts, and our souls. It is here for us to use in our dark times, our rejoicing, and in our goofy—yes, I need to laugh—moments. Poetry is for periods of grief, love, and romance. It’s for when we are in awe of nature, but also when we’re stuck in a funk or trapped in mind-numbing duties of life. It can help readers and writers of poetry find personal growth, strengthen their creative expression, and deepen their connection with the human experience, offering a sense of empowerment. It is a coveted and necessary art form with the power to heal individuals, transform communities, and ripple global healing.  

Are You Now Poetically Inspired?

Feel inspired to delve into poetry, whether for reading enjoyment or crafting poems? Check out classic and contemporary poets at your local library. Some of my favorites are Maya Angelou, Robert Frost, Mary Oliver, and Emily Dickinson. The Poetry Foundation, www.poetryfoundation.org, is another excellent resource for discovering new and old poets. Find your state poetry society by going to https://infsps.com. State poetry organizations are a great way to connect to poets and poetry enthusiasts in your area. Poetry is not just for professional poets or for others who write poetry, though. Grab a pencil and pad of paper, get comfortable, and jot down your thoughts to get started. Plugging those thoughts into a form of poetry is one of many ways to get the poetic juices flowing and tap into the healing power of poetry.

Thanks for sharing these forms with us, Morgana! Readers, visit at her website, Instagram, or get a copy of Hopeless.

Sign up to do a poetry blog here.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group June 2024 Blog Hop

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group post on the first Wednesday of the month. “Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance.” You can find my previous posts here. The group poses a monthly question to answer as well.

The co-hosts this month are:  Liza at Middle Passages, Shannon Lawrence, Melissa Maygrove, and Olga Godim! Be sure to visit them to say thanks for their work.

The Monthly Question: In this constantly evolving industry, what kind of offering/service do you think the IWSG should consider offering to members?

I’m really into doing blog interviews and Instagram Live interview with authors right now. It would be neat for several IWSG members to get together and do something similar. Share experiences, mentor / ask questions, and get some practice being interviewed with a little bit of exposure potential. (If you want to join me for a 1×1 Instagram Live interview, sign up here)

4 thoughts on “Exploring Poetry – The Healing Power of Poetry”

  1. @Morgana: Beautiful post about poetry. Poetry helps lots of people to find peace or to process loss. But I don’t think reading and especially writing poetry is for everyone. I’m a fiction writer. I write speculative fiction to entertain my readers, to provide them with an escape avenue from their daily lives. I write about magic and space flights. Poetry, on the other hand, is all about self-expression. Poets write about themselves. They delve into their own psyche. I was never tempted to do that. I’m a very private person (or a cowardly one) and I’m reluctant to share my emotions with everyone. Although I do enjoy a piece of poetry occasionally. And I have the utmost respect for poets courageous enough to bare their souls to the wide world.
    @Kristina: Interesting idea – sharing of interviews.

    1. Thanks for reading! I’ll counter your poetry argument. Even speculative fiction comes from our experiences and of those around us. Everything has a touch of the personal when we write. I’m about to release a scifi and fantasy poetry book and I have everything from fairy tales to one where an android army fights for their freedom and a travel brochure for aliens visiting earth. Poetry can entertain and cover topics that are about the world, just like writing about androids fighting for their freedom could be an entire scifi novel. It can also be a poem. Happy writing!

  2. I enjoyed reading your post abut poetry, Morgana. Your “Forever Etched” was very difficult to read, but it rang so true. I don’t think you can ever forget if IT has happened to you. I haven’t. The toddler rolling a poop ball was hilarious! I suck at writing poetry. It’s the genre that scares me most. I was a good teacher of poetry in elementary school though. I was not going to let my insecurities impact my second and third grade kiddos. Happy writing in June!

  3. Wonderful post on poetry! I think writing, in general, is a cathartic expression, but poetry is a different approach and one that focuses the emotion more. Like short stories, it’s a story in fewer words, a distilled experience.

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