The Spoken Word – Part 3 (Instrumental Health – A Mental Health Documentary Series)

[Music] Everyone and anyone has the ability to create and express themselves in writing. I think sometimes we focus too much on it has to be a good poem, or if not a poem, it could be a painting, a piece of art, a song – it has to be good. Actually, sometimes you can just write for yourself. A lot of the stuff that I’ve written will probably never see the light of day. Maybe my great, great grandkids will find it in a trunk somewhere and be like “Wow, that’s not so great. I thought she was a professional poet” Because sometimes, it’s the process. Sometimes, it is just about allowing yourself to express yourself without thinking about what’s going to come of it or what it’s for or who it’s for. It’s for you. You can go to a workshop, any workshop. If you want to come to a Poetry Prescribed workshop, I’d highly recommend it. Most of the people that come to my workshops are not writers or poets. Many have never written anything before, and usually, in that case, they come in very nervous, and the first thing I do is let them know that the focus is not on the writing – it never is when we start the process. The focus is on listening to others, is on conversation, and we use poetry, spoken word poetry, in the case of Poetry Prescribed, to inspire a conversation, and then we take that conversation to create. It can help people verbalise things that they’re not able to ordinarily. And I’ve seen that happen myself. I’ve worked with young people with quite severe mental health problems who won’t engage with their psychologists, but sit in a session where the focus isn’t them, the focus is the poem, and all of a sudden, they’re talking about themselves, because the poetry has given them freedom to relate without me directly asking them. So it definitely gives people a voice and gives people a freedom to speak perhaps in a way that they wouldn’t in other circumstances. And it promotes empathy, which is lacking a lot in today’s society, you know? So those are just some of the things that I know for a fact work in terms of poetry as a therapy because they’ve worked for me personally with my mental health and I’ve seen when I’ve gone and done workshops that it works. And also, another really important thing about poetry is it connects people. And community and, you know, relationships are so important in terms of our mental health. So many people are isolated, and it’s something that can actually bring people together. Loneliness is one of the the biggest causes of depression. Loneliness and isolation are really horrible things to go through, and I’ve seen poetry bring people together. If you want to get involved in poetry, and you live in London, you are very lucky. There’s Chocolate Poetry Club, there’s Flow Vortex, there’s Mind Over Matter, What You Say In Poetry, Outspoken, Boomerang. I mean, the list goes on. I could probably sit and name about 20 poetry nights. So turn up, show up, put yourself out of your comfort zone, even if you’re socially anxious. I promise, poets… There’s a lot of kind of socially anxious, socially awkward people at poetry nights. I’m one of them, or was one of them. I’m less socially awkward now. So just show up, introduce yourself, and get involved, and when you’re ready, bite the bullet, step out of your comfort zone, and perform a poem, and then the rest will just flow.

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