“Self-expression involves any activity where we can transfer the energy from our thoughts and feelings into another form,” content writer Nadia Sheikh wrote on smartrecovery.org. “And usually, this makes us feel better.” Sheikh wrote.
One form of self-expression is poetry or, “writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound and rhythm,” as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
Plattsburgh State senior and English major Kai Silvera appreciates poetry for enabling her to express a lot of emotions in a short space.
“You have to think about every single word that you’re putting on the paper,” Silvera said. “It’s not as elaborate as a short story or novel may be.”
Because poetry requires careful selection of each word, it becomes a self-reflective process for writers in that they have to think about what it is that they’re actually thinking and feeling.
“It’s kind of like reminding yourself who you are,” said Elizabeth Cohen, PSUC English professor. “It’s like knocking on the door of your own skull.”
Writers then have to further think about how they want this expressed in their poems visually and auditorily.
Silvera, president of the PSUC’s Creative Writers’ Guild, values the structural freedom of writing poems.
“I really like that you can play around with the format in poetry,” Silvera said. “You can have words zig-zagging across the page, and it’s just much more creative than the other genres [of writing] that I’ve experienced.”
Secretary of the Writers Club Erika Winters, a senior at PSUC added that a lot of people hold the misconception that poems must rhyme when they don’t have to. Further, poetry is not held to the same requirements of novels and essays, Winters said, where there has to be a plot and a polished beginning and end.
“It’s not to say that poets don’t spend days and months on poems,” Winters said. “But for a lot of people, it’s a spot to write down really quick how you feel at a certain time.”
Writing poetry, Winters and Silvera said, is a great way for people to express feelings that they may have difficulty expressing verbally. Some issues may be too personal or people may be afraid to talk about them.
Poetry allows writers to not only navigate their thoughts and feelings, Silvera said but to be able to view them at at a distance. She believes this is one reason behind similes and metaphors prevalence in poetry as they help with this navigational process.
Studies in a hospital setting have shown clinical improvements for patients who engage in art therapy, according to Sheik.
Creative arts allow us to check in with our emotional and mental health state Sheik said.
“I like to think poems reach deeper to a place in you that we try to ignore a lot,” Cohen said. “Or we’re just too busy, or we’re kind of not in touch with it but we should be.”
“Poetry makes you stop,” Cohen said. “It makes you participate in moments and language in a different way.
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