Poetry as Medicine by Janice Falls

I’m choosing to step outside my regular posting of a poem this week, as well as my own comfort zone, to share with you this personal essay which recently appeared in Braided Way, a journal featuring writing in support of differing spiritual practices and perspectives.

I have learned how poetry can be medicine for the events in our lives – a balm to soothe, a challenge to pay attention, whatever is needed in the moment, from my teacher Kim Rosen whose rich book Saved by a Poem I would recommend to everyone with even the faintest interest in poetry. For the past decade, poetry has been a central focus in my life, and so, I thought I would share this with you.

A deep bow of thanks to all the readers of this site and for your inspiring comments. May these poems continue to serve.

24 thoughts on “Poetry as Medicine by Janice Falls

  1. I love this with every fiber of my being. As a photographer, I’m often drawn to the imagery first and this picture resonates deeply with me. I’ve learned a great deal about the power of poetry through a personal project I am working on. I take a picture and my writer/friend composes a poem in conversation with the picture. The project is about exactly these two aspects – mindfulness and grief – though I didn’t fully realize this until I read your post today. Every day my mantra is wait, slow down, and pause. And pay attention. And you have taught me so much about the power of poetry. Thank you!

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  2. Bravo, Jan! Such thoughtfulness and eloquence in your article. You articulate beautifully why poetry not only touches us deeply, but also serves as the soul’s faithful companion through sorrow and joy. Thank you! xoxoxo

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  3. Wonderful and eloquent words. I too have been saved by poetry, wisdom that comes sometimes through me and sometimes another, but always from a world of greater wholeness. It gives me hope.

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  4. This is an exquisite piece of writing. I hung on every word. It so describes my experience which is always a beautiful thing to read coming from another. As a psychotherapist myself, I have often shared poems with clients and not that I am retired, with friends. Thank you for your wisdom and the book recommendations.

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  5. I loved your article, and appreciate how you bring poetry out into everyday lives, where it is so needed. I have loved/written poetry all my life, but only in recent years immersed myself in it – writing, reading, learning, sharing – and it has made such a difference.

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  6. Thank you for this Jan. It’s so beautiful. I remember when you first talked to me in the coffee shop about Kim Rosen and her book “Saved by a Poem” which I enjoyed immensely. I remember reading the whole book out loud which was an amazing experience. I loved every evening with the Ottawa Poetry Bards when you recited poetry accompanied by beautiful music and the opportunity to walk the labrynth. Listening to the music and wonderful poems taught me how to listen and understand with my heart which was so healing for me. Thank you for sharing your journey with poetry through mindfulness and grief. It’s a beautiful gift.

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    • Dear Sandra, I am touched by hearing of your own journey with poetry and how it has affected you, to listen and understand with your heart, as you say. Thank you, this is so meaningful to me. Jan xoxo

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  7. I loved everything about your article, from knowing that Whyte read the Walcott poem (& imagining that! Must go find), & your experience with that, to how that and the Divorce poem changed you, to finding out Kim is your teacher, to hearing your ongoing personal process, to your insights about poetry as healing. Wonderful! And the absolute cherry on top was getting to see a photo of you. You look like someone I might pick out in a room to want to be friends with. No surprise there! Thank you for writing and sharing this, Jan,

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    • Oh my Elizabeth, thank you for the depth of your response, I am honoured to be considered a friend. Jan xoxo and btw, I believe I heard Whyte speak that poem on a cassette recording called Through the Eye of the Needle that was a talk he gave to a corporate group, more than 20 years ago.

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      • I just found a version of him reciting it on YouTube. Such a poem. I found that poem too about 20 or more years back, when it wasn’t well known, and made Valentine cards in which I inscribed it, mailed out to a number of friends.

        I haven’t been writing poetry myself in so long now…thank you for continuing to remind me that it’s worth the time, to remind me of its transformative powers!

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