I am Not a Poet

Taking your negative thoughts and organising them into poetry can be uplifting and therapeutic for anyone, even if you’re not a poet.

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I am not a poet but I need to write poetry.

I likely will never be a true poet because I can’t make beautiful words and sentences spring from everyday life. I don’t keep up to date with news and events of the world, so I can’t write of politics or war, or of anything a mass of people would be able to relate to.

But I’ve found I need to write poetry for myself and for my own sanity.

I don’t write poems every day, or even every month, but every now and then, when something in my life throws me off balance and consumes my every thought, stopping me from getting through day to day life—this is when I turn to poetry.

I write down everything that’s clogging up my mind, scribble it so hard that my Biro tears through the paper. Then I play with what I’ve written, looking for words that rhyme, thinking of different ways I can get my feelings across with words. I keep thinking about these words when I’m doing other things too, keep running them around in my head while I’m washing up or in the bath. Then I look at my scribbled poem again, write it up a little neater, manipulate the words and emotions, make them stretch and constrict into what I want them to be. At this point I’ve forgotten all of the inner turmoil those emotions were so recently causing me, because they are now extracted. I’m using them, fashioning them, into something pleasing and beautiful. I’m constructing something good from something bad, turning what was an overpoweringly negative feeling into a meaningful and tangible creation. I can glance back at the words from time to time, edit them, maybe even share them with others when I’m feeling brave, because now I have removed my headache of battling emotions from my mind and constructively turned them into understandable words. Now I can heal, and engage more purposefully in my present life.

And I need to hold on to, and appreciate, this therapy of words I have found in poetry, and not try to become what I feel a real poet should be.

Recently, because of how I enjoy writing poems, I decided I should try to be more of a ‘real’ poet. I dabbled in trying out two pieces of advice I had eavesdropped on from established poets.

The first piece of advice was that poetry doesn’t need to be personal. So, I tried to write about anything but my own personal experiences, but I couldn’t get my emotional juices to flow. It felt too forced, too disconnected—which is why I know I am not a poet. But that doesn’t mean I can’t write poetry for myself.

The second piece of advice was that meaning shouldn’t be sacrificed for rhyme. And I greatly understand this, because words and emotions that rhyme can often feel forced and clichéd. So I tried very hard to comb back over my poems and alter them into something a little more poetic and professional, but it just wouldn’t work. I find the way my destructive emotions have been bound into the confines of rhyming sentences far too pleasing to pull them apart.

Using poetry as therapy has worked for me, because it’s constructive and calming to be able to take all my chaotic thoughts and mould them into a poem of order and occasional humour. If you sometimes find yourself battling inner emotions that are consuming your day to day life, you should try using poetry as therapy, because writing your feelings and problems down can be much easier then saying them aloud. There is no right or wrong way to do this, and don’t restrict yourself by trying to create what others have done before. Don’t feel your poetry needs to rhyme or be abstract or full of metaphors. And if poetry really isn’t working for you, don’t think stress balls are your only option. You might find drawing or painting helps to clear your mind, or maybe music, or photography, or crochet, or anything you can enjoy that can free you of your stresses and problems, even if just for a little while. Whatever your therapy, embrace it—even if your crochet has no holes and your portrait paintings look like stick figures—because it doesn’t matter if your work is professional or acceptable or sellable, because it doesn’t need to be—the only stipulation of your chosen therapy is that it makes you happy.

Rebecca Delphine is a Young Adult author from Thanet.

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