I have been told several times that my writing voice is very raw, very visceral. That it sometimes makes people uncomfortable, that it makes them feel. Recently a reader, a teacher working with teens on the power of narrative poetry wrote and asked me if the process of writing poetry and sharing my poems with others has helped me heal. This is interesting question. I often think that writing poetry is a very selfish act for me. My essays and fiction I write for others. I think about the intended audience. My poetry I write for me.
As ironic as it may sound, when I started to blog in October of 2016, I had no idea that I had anything to say. I was just trying to get one piece of writing in an easily accessible place. At the time, I was mostly writing deeply personal Facebook essays and had not written poetry since the early 1990s. I had no idea that dam was about to burst and that a lifetime of experience was going to start rushing out of me. Writing about my feelings, about my experiences in free verse quickly became its own form of therapy. It offered incredible freedom for self-expression.
Writing poetry helps me let go of some of the heavy weight of hard, isolating feelings that I have carried with me. Feelings of guilt. Of shame. Of being unworthy. It lets me dump my feelings out on the screen, step back and really examine them. Sometimes not even I know the import or meaning of what I have written until I can do that. This processing doesn’t always happen all at once– sometimes it is an ongoing unfolding of meaning. I continue to learn about myself, about what is lurking in my unconscious, how I see and experience my world, through writing poetry.
One of the most gratifying discoveries for me about my writing is that I have the potential to capture another’s experience and at times even serve as a voice for the voiceless. As I said before, poetry writing is a solitary and often selfish act. I find that I am deeply humbled every time somebody tells me that I have captured their experience, their feelings, perfectly. That I said what they couldn’t. What an amazing honor and privilege it is to hear that someone who is living with depression, going through a medical crisis, struggling with PTSD or who has experienced sexual trauma feels less alone because of my words. I never knew I could have that kind of impact.
It has been incredibly powerful and liberating to find myself again as a writer, as a poet. Writing can affirm, it can help us breathe more freely, it can capture a moment in time, it can educate others about our experience, it can connect us with others who share our struggles, and yes, I do believe that it can heal.
Every time I write and publish my poetry I assert that my truth, that the truth of others who have shared my experiences, has value. That my voice, that our collective voices, matter. That we matter. There is incredible healing power in finding our voices, in speaking our truths. There is incredible healing power in asserting to the world that we will not remain silent for other people’s comfort. We will read, we will write, we will speak, we will roar.
© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved