What’s the connection between poetry & mental health?
That’s the question I woke with today. As I came awake, my mind was flooded by the first thought of the day. I’d no control over it. Out of sleep, out of perhaps a dream I can’t remember, this issue laid claim to my mind. I’ve chosen to hold on to the question. This is an act of will. My experience is that I often wake with a question which disappears as I make the first cup of Barry’s Tea.
Thoughts come, thoughts go.
I have the power to help them on their way. I can also cause them to linger. In this case, poetry & mental health don’t come in a vacuum. I went to sleep with a different but connected question: poetry & business? How can I best present two of my huge interests in the form of podcasts? I’ve recently started podcasting (broadcasting short pieces of audio via AudioBoo). Yesterday I applied thought to how best to connect or separate my personal & business interests & activities? I went to sleep on one question, and woke on another.
The connection between poetry & mental health can be treated as an abstract question.
I bet there are books on it. Both are topics, rich seams. But the connection for me is personal, biographical. I had my first bout of severe depression in 1992; I became a poet in 1995. Ever since autumn 1992, my life has been characterised by awareness of my vulnerable mental health. I’ve never been more aware of anything. I’ve done my best to share my experience of this vulnerability on this blog. One of my ways of attending to my mental health is to write about it. If you go back through this blog, you’ll find loads of autobiographical stuff & thoughts about depression. Since summer 1995 I’ve been a poet. I’ve written poetry, a huge amount of it: almost every day I’ve practised the skill of writing verse. I’ve published hardly any of it. However recently I decided I’d share more of my poetry on this blog. (The "Irish Epic Poem in 33 Cantos" is a big project.)
The link between mental health & poetry…
It’s clear to me: I do both with passion. Looking back at the amount of time I’ve invested in doing both, I wonder how I’ve done anything else for the last 15 years.
"Stop Paul! You could go on and on about this topic. You could bore the pants off readers." (inner voice speaks out). But the question I woke with has opened up a valuable tributary of thought: the connection between my two interests is autobiographic. It is part of my DNA, my uniqueness - the snowflake I am. It’s a lot more that a connection between two topics, two abstractions. It’s concrete, flesh & blood connected. It’s me. You are made up of similar but different stuff, isn’t that right?
"Who are you mate? "
I’m a guy who lives in the space created by vulnerable mental health & the pursuit of poetry. Oh, and, in case you think that’s all there is to me, there are other passions too. My family, my business, my cooking…
Maybe this morning greeting can help you explore who you are via the questions you find on your mind?